ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – At least 1,000 New Mexico veterans received their COVID vaccinations at the V.A. Hospital this morning. The drive-thru clinic comes before they begin sending the vaccine to their outpatient clinics in rural areas.

“It was a long line,” said Lorenzo Chavez, an Albuquerque veteran, “but it went fast.” Chavez is one of the 1,000 veterans who received the COVID vaccine Saturday morning. The clinic was drive-thru only, with veterans like Chavez staying in their car and getting the shot through a rolled-down window.

“Once they get their vaccination, they are sent to an observation area,” said Sonja Brown, the Associate Director of the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center. “We have them sit for 15 minutes to make sure that they’re okay to leave and not experiencing any symptoms,” said Brown.

This is the hospital’s fifth Saturday vaccination clinic since receiving the first doses in December. “We also immunize patients veterans Monday through Friday,” said Chief Nurse, Cassandra Valdez. “We do about 500 a day, Monday through Friday,” said Valdez.

Now 8,000 veterans have received their first shot, and more than 3,000 have gotten their booster. Brown says a lot of veterans have traveled from around New Mexico, to get their shots at the hospital in Albuquerque.

Next week, they will begin slowly distributing the vaccine to community-based outpatient clinics in rural areas. Brown says 82% of VA staff has also been vaccinated already. There are no plans for the next drive-thru clinic, but they will continue vaccinating veterans at the hospital on weekdays.