NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of this current phase targeting the elderly and people with underlying health issues that put them at risk for COVID complications. However, getting everyone through the process is proving to be problematic.
KRQE News 13 spoke with a local woman who has health problems, and doesn’t have a computer, so her friend is trying to help her register for the vaccine. Like others, she’s running into roadblocks. It’s something Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is addressing.
“I’m 78, I live by myself,” explained Raymonda Zanotti. “I’m handicapped, I used a walker, and I have nobody except one friend, and she’s getting tired of the getting on that computer all the time,” Zanotti laughed.
Zanotti said she was contacted by the Department of Health on January 4th, letting her know she can register online to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Her friend helped her register, and she was given an ‘event code’ to get the vaccine.
For nearly two weeks now, Zanotti hasn’t been able to schedule an appointment. Instead, she receives a message that states, “Unfortunately, this event has ended. Please, do not worry. This will not be your only opportunity to schedule an appointment. The Department will reach out and notify you of additional opportunities in the future.”
“It’s just constantly calling, constantly calling, and nobody helping you,” said Zanotti. She said she’s called the state hotline 26 times. “I used to go to the library to get internet, but it’s too hard for me to get there, plus they were closed for a long time,” she added.
New Mexico is in Phase 1B for the vaccine, which includes people 75 and older, those with underlying health problems, frontline essential workers, and educators.
Zanotti has cancer and upcoming surgery. “I’m very worried,” she said. “I know I’m not the only one that’s got health problems.”
KRQE News 13 asked Gov. Lujan Grisham about these issues during Thursday’s news conference. “We can do better, straight up, we can just do better,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “We really don’t have a bottleneck, we did have some logistics problems.”
The governor said the call center was overwhelmed, and state officials are working through the kinks. “Phase 1b is hard, right, because it depends on how much vaccine we have access to,” Gov. Lujan Grisham added.
So far, the state has administered more than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses over the past month. More than 400,000 are registered online to receive the vaccine.
The state is also relying on vaccine production to ramp up. “It’s several parts, right, it’s 75-year-olds and people who have conditions that warrant them high risk – that’s a huge group, that’s 300,000 New Mexicans,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
“After that is all caregivers, and educators and right after that right, we start to go to other essential workers, so 1B is a big group in New Mexico,” she added.
The Department of Health said Friday it’s also starting more drive-thru vaccine clinics, including one at NMSU, which should help people with mobility issues. The state is hoping to soon distribute up to 8,000 vaccines per day, which would put New Mexico over a million vaccines over a six-month period.