COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, but when can New Mexicans expect to get it?

Coronavirus New Mexico

Due to technical difficulties, KRQE was unable to stream the webinar

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The COVID-19 vaccine is being billed as the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Pending federal approval of the 17,550 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will be on the way to New Mexico. Tuesday the New Mexico Human Services Department Cabinet Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D. along with Dr. Denise Gonzales, Medical Director, Presbyterian Healthcare Services and Dr. Michael Richards, MPA, Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs, UNM Health System provided a COVID-19 update.

During Tuesday’s update, Dr. Scrase said its going to be well into next year before every New Mexican who wants the vaccine will get one. “I have a number in my head where I think that maybe 60 or 70% of our population will end up being vaccinated but I think its, its toward the end of the summer. Not April or May,” said Dr. Scrase.

Dr. Scrase also said that is a projection and it’s possible it will change. Scrase says the only way to truly know that answer is when he knows how many vaccines are physically in the state and are going into people’s arms.

The initial 17,550 doses will vaccinate frontline healthcare workers. Dr. Scrase says hospitals across the state are now in the “crisis standard of care” which means doctors could have to start rationing care. Healthcare workers are utilizing what’s called the “hub and spoke” model to transfer patients to hospitals that have beds. They are also transferring personnel or equipment to hospitals that need it. To keep up with demand, the state has also recruited travel nurses, prepared pediatricians to treat adults and created a roster of personnel working at smaller practices who could work in a hospital.

The FDA is expected to make a decision on Pfizer’s vaccine this week and could also authorize Moderna’s next.

Measuring New Mexico hospital capacity. Slide shown at Tuesday’s webinar on Dec. 8, 2020
New Mexico triage protocol. Slide shown at Tuesday’s webinar
New Mexico hospital capacity weekly state update. Slide shown during Tuesday’s webinar.

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