ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The major hospital systems across New Mexico are working on plans to expand their COVID-19 vaccine efforts. It comes as Department of Health officials announced an expansion of vaccine eligibility Friday into phases 1B and 1C, accounting for 1.62-million of the estimated 1.68-million New Mexicans ages 16 and over.
At a news conference Monday, leaders from New Mexico’s various hospital systems including UNM Health, Presbyterian, Christus St. Vincent, and Lovelace each spoke of their different community vaccination efforts. Based in Albuquerque, Lovelace Medical Center is partnering with the City of Albuquerque for plans to open more vaccine clinics in the weeks ahead.
“With the city in conjunction, mass vaccination clinics, some of those at high schools,” said Dr. Vesta Sandoval, chief medical officer for Lovelace. “Being able to set up those clinics using the Department of Health website so that (DOH) would set up (people’s) appointments and bring those through.”
Several months ago, city leaders highlighted high schools and community centers across Albuquerque as locations that would eventually be called “PODS” or “points of dispensation” for vaccines. In the past, Lovelace has operated a vaccine clinic out of Albuquerque High School for first responders.
Any timeline on when PODS may openly more broadly thought is tied to the unknown of when more vaccine supply will come to New Mexico. NMDOH reports the state will receive more than 98,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine this week. The state will not receive any doses of Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose vaccine this week.
One of the first mass vaccination clinics started by UNM Health continues at the Pit. Medical officials from UNMH say that clinic is now responsible for doling out more than 56,000 total vaccine doses.
Presbyterian is also continuing its newer vaccine clinic at its offices near Balloon Fiesta Park. That clinic is now expected to dole out about 2,000 shots per day.
In the Santa Fe area, Christus St. Vincent is in part working on contacting people in three specific Santa Fe County area codes with higher poverty rates and more health risks. Christus says those area codes include 87505, 87507, and 87508.
“We’re currently working on a list provided to use from the state which categorizes people in age groups and by zip code, so we are working very aggressively to get the vast majority of those folks vaccinated,” said Dr. David Gonzales, chief medical officer for Christus St. Vincent. “We’re hoping in the very near future, with an abundant supply, we can work with our city, county officials as well as the National Guard to have large drive thorough vaccine clinics in the very near future.”
While roughly 1.62 million people are eligible to get a COVID vaccine in New Mexico today, the state says medical providers are still prioritizing vaccine invitations to those 60-years-old and over. Presbyterian’s chief medical officer advised Monday that New Mexicans who’ve been vaccinated should continue practicing social distancing.
UNM Health System Executive Physician Dr. David Pitcher, Presbyterian Healthcare Services Medical Director Dr. Denise Gonzales, Lovelace Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vesta Sandoval, and CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Gonzales provided information during March 22 hospitals update. Watch the entire conversation below: