SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Secretary-Designate of the New Mexico Department of Health Dr. Tracie Collins participated in a remote news conference on Tuesday to provide an update on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort. Dr. Collins emphasized that while it is a major step to have received the vaccine in New Mexico, it is important to keep practicing COVID-safe protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

Santa Fe hospital Christus St. Vincent was the first hospital in New Mexico to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, less than 24 hours after the vaccine’s manufacturer Pfizer-BioNTech started distributing it on Sunday. Dr. Collins explained that New Mexico will receive 17,550 doses in the first shipment of vaccines which will be prioritized for frontline healthcare workers starting with staff with high to medium risk of exposure to the virus.

Other New Mexico hospitals such as Lovelace Health System, the University of New Mexico Hospital, and Presbyterian are expected to receive COVID-19 vaccine shipments in the coming days. As the state receives additional shipments of the vaccine in the coming weeks, Dr. Collins says the vaccines will continue to be distributed to healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Like other COVID-19 vaccines currently in development, the Pfizer vaccine requires two shots with the second being administered 21 days after the initial shot. Dr. Collins explains that while receiving the vaccines is a significant milestone in combating the virus, it is still critical to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“While the vaccine prevents COVID infection, we’re still learning whether it prevents transmission. This means that as New Mexicans begin to get vaccinated, we still need to wear masks, maintain six-foot social distancing, wash our hands often, and keep up with other COVID-safe practices,” said Dr. Collins.

Dr. Collins explains that hopefully, in one year, more than 70% of New Mexico will be vaccinated and there will be additional data available on transmission allowing us to know when we will no longer need to wear masks and social distance.

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