NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Sixty-one thousand doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are heading to New Mexico this week as the state tries to fully-vaccinate thousands of people waiting for their second shot. As of Monday, 437,903 total doses of vaccine had been administered, with nearly 301,000 primary doses and nearly 137,000 booster doses being administered.
The state data indicates around 85,000 vaccine doses went into New Mexicans’ arms over the last week. Data posted to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard shows nearly an even 50-50 split went between primary and booster shots, again.
Addressing vaccines, the New Mexico Department of Health took to Instagram live for a roughly 40-minute question-answer session with New Mexicans over the weekend. During the event, NMDOH Communications Director Matt Bieber was asked how long it would be before the state anticipated vaccinating more sub-groups, including teachers.
“The current pace, it’s going to take us the better part of a couple months to get to front line essential workers, which is the next eligible group,” Bieber said. “Teachers along with early childhood folks, and college staff, grocery workers and other groups, transit workers.”
State data indicates over several days last week, providers were giving out about 2,000 more booster shots each day as compared to primary doses. However, that disparity evened out over the week, data shows.
According to the state vaccine dashboard, there are still about 163,000 people waiting on their second dose of vaccine. The Department of Health estimates about 800,000 people are currently eligible for vaccination in New Mexico under the current 1A and 1B framework.
Over the last two weeks, the state vaccine data indicates more than 6,000 a day on average are getting the first or “primary” dose of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. With that rate and assuming everyone eligible right now gets vaccinated, it could be early May before 800,000 people have received a primary dose of the vaccine. That projection also assumes there will be no changes in supply.
A third vaccine might be the game-changer for a faster rollout. Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is now under FDA review. If approved for emergency use, that vaccine could ship out by the end of February.
“Well, it’s promising,” Bieber said. “Obviously it’s going to help in a lot of respects because there are certain populations, especially in New Mexico, which is such an enormous state physically, with a lot of rural populations, folks that are difficult to reach in other ways.
NMDOH also said Saturday the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine is also ideal for prisons and homeless populations. A department spokesman indicated those are the populations most likely to lose contact with medical providers between first and second doses of the existing vaccines.
NMDOH says it’s also working on getting mobile clinics up for vaccinating people on the go. Those could be ready in “the next couple weeks,” according to NMDOH, putting their timing of availability around the week Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine could be available for first use. The state says it’s also in the process of looking into allowing people to choose the type of vaccine they receive. Right now, there’s no option to do that.