Lawmaker in McKinley County unhappy with vaccine distribution there

Coronavirus New Mexico

GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – A lawmaker that represents an area of the state hit hardest by COVID wants to know why they aren’t getting more vaccines. The New York Times reports that Gallup had the most cases per capita of any metro area in the country in December, and people there said they deserve their fair share of vaccines. Sen. George Muñoz said hard-hit McKinley County is receiving nowhere near the vaccine doses they need. “How do we get more doses for us,” Muñoz said.

While McKinley County currently has the highest cases per capita in New Mexico, the state tells KRQE News 13 that they have sent more than 1,000 doses to all of McKinley County since distribution began. In comparison, UNMH and Presbyterian in Albuquerque combined have vaccinated more than 16,000 employees so far. Plus, Muñoz said McKinley County hasn’t had a single vaccine clinic like the one at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque this week.

“They have had three vaccine clinics in San Juan County,” Munoz said. “We haven’t had any here, and talking to some of the doctors and also serving on the hospital board, we are just getting so small amounts,” Muñoz said.

The Department of Health said distribution is based partly on provider capacity, saying DOH will send more doses to McKinley County when ultra-low temperature storage capabilities become more available there, which is required to store the Pfizer vaccine. Plus, it is also based on population. Albuquerque has more than 25 times the number of people Gallup does, but Muñoz believes distribution should also account for infection rates. “Too many friends and family die,” Muñoz said. “I had an uncle die last week, and my cousin’s comments were that if he had just had that shot one month earlier, his dad would have been fine.”

News 13 asked the Department of Health for vaccine distribution numbers by county, but they said they didn’t have that information to provide us. Muñoz specifically called on the governor for equal access to vaccines. Her office said that the state only has the doses the federal government has made available, and the state is doing everything it can to distribute them. The governor’s office is encouraging people to register for the vaccine online.

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