SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been three weeks since the first COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in New Mexico, and those people are now receiving their second dose. The vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first for maximum effectiveness, which many frontline hospital workers are taking this week. “This is our first big second dose week for our associates,” Christus St. Vincent Chief Operating Officer Hope Wade said.
Christus St. Vincent was the first hospital in New Mexico to receive the vaccine back on December 14. Since then, they’ve given more than 2,200 vaccines to people within the hospital and other frontline healthcare workers in the community. “We have been working with some of the home healthcare groups, some independent physician offices and the Urgent Cares in the community,” Wade said.
Wade said they gave second doses to 121 frontline workers at the hospital Monday and another 900 will receive it by the end of this week. Wade said 65% of their workforce has received the first dose, and they expect that number to increase as people return to work after the holidays. However, some people decided to opt-out altogether.
“There have been a few, and we have some of that with the flu vaccine as well,” Wade said. “I don’t know if there is anyone driving reason for that. It is a new vaccine so people are wanting to wait a week or two and see.”
At Lovelace, 50% of hospital employees have been vaccinated so far. “It is really easy to do,” Lovelace administrative director Sherry Aragon said. “The side effects have been very minimal, and I think it is going to be important moving forward.”
Wade said this week marks a morale booster at Christus St. Vincent. “People are very encouraged,” Wade said. “We are all looking to get to the end of the COVID journey, right? As we are able to get more folks vaccinated, the quicker we can get there.”
The New Mexico Department of Health said it has no plans right now to make the vaccine mandatory, adding that it would have an update on who will be included in the next phases of distribution very soon. According to the CDC’s COVID tracker, more than 40,000 people in New Mexico have received their first dose of the vaccine. However, the state said that there is a lag in the reporting, and our state’s actual numbers are higher.