COVID-19 vaccine registration support hotline overwhelmed, NMDOH looks to hire more staff

Coronavirus New Mexico

Watch full news conference below

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Secretary-Designate of the New Mexico Department of Health, Dr. Tracie Collins hosted a remote news conference Monday, January 11 to provide an update on New Mexico’s vaccine distribution effort.

The state announced on Friday that New Mexico has moved to Phase 1B of the COVID vaccine rollout and that the speed that the state moves through the phases will be dependent on vaccine supply which comes from the federal government. Phase 1B is expected to run until the spring with the vaccine being available to the following New Mexicans:

  • Individuals 75 years of age and older 
  • Individuals 16 or older with underlying medical conditions that place them at greater risk from COVID-19
  • Frontline essential workers who cannot work remotely
  • Vulnerable populations (residents of congregate care settings)
Slide shown at COVID vaccine update on Jan. 11, 2021.

The list of essential workers includes grocery store employees, caregivers, people in public safety, and educators. However, some groups are having trouble getting appointments for their first or second doses. If people are having trouble on the vaccine registration website, they’re supposed to be able to call the vaccine hotline but the hotline is overwhelmed.

“Regarding the hotline, we are expanding our workforce, so we’re increasing the number of people who will man those lines so that we can avoid having delays and getting through,” said Dr. Collins.

The New Mexico Department of Health says they are now hiring more people to staff the hotline, they hope to have 21 people tasked with answering calls from all over the state by Wednesday. By the end of the week, they plan on having 41 people.

As for people having trouble getting appointments for their first dose, Dr. Collins says to be patient as it all depends on the supply of the vaccine. Now people are waiting for their second dose, which should be administered 21 days later for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna, should get a notification telling them when and where they should go, that also depends on availability.

Dr. Collins says there was an issue in that notification but claims it has now been fixed. KRQE News 13 has received reports of people just Monday, still not getting those notifications or unable to schedule their second dose.

NMDOH is also considering a chat feature on the website and is working on a plan to help people who don’t have regular internet access get registered. As far as distribution goes, the state has administered more than 78,000 doses of the vaccine, 30,000 of those happening within the last week. Officials say 400,000 New Mexicans have registered for the vaccine and they’re still encouraging everyone to sign up.

Slide shown at COVID vaccine update on Jan. 11, 2021.

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