NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health announced beginning Monday, April, 5, all New Mexicans 16-years-old and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C are eligible. Also, starting Monday, Phase 2 will be eligible for the vaccine. In order to get the vaccine, visit vaccineNM.org to register.
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The NMDOH says they will continue to prioritize vaccine invitations for Phase 1A New Mexicans who are 75 years and older, and New Mexicans 60 years and older with a chronic condition. Earlier this week, the NMDOH announced that New Mexicans 75-years-old and older who are registered online will no longer need event codes to schedule vaccine appointments. Seniors will now receive invitations to schedule appointments.
Seniors will log in to vaccinenm.org using their confirmation code and date of birth and schedule an appointment at a time and location that is convenient for them. An event code will not be required however, they will still need to make an appointment to receive their vaccine.
Meanwhile, the reason for the phase 2 move, the state says this is happening for two reason, some rural areas of the state cannot fill vaccine appointments with people in all phase 1 levels anymore.
“The last thing we want is doses just sitting on a shelf, or god forbid, going to waste. And so where doses are already distributed to places that can’t use them, well we need to make more folks eligible so they can be used,” said the Communications Director for NMDOH Matt Bieber.
Bieber says one example is in Portales where they’ve been advertising and pushing out appointment invitations and have plenty of doses but not enough eligible people who wanted them.
The state is also expecting huge shipments of vaccine doses over the next few weeks including 130,000 doses, 30,000 of which are single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, next week. To avoid having more doses than they know what to do with statewide, Bieber says the second reason to open up eligibility is to encourage young people to get registered.
“We wanted to signal to young people that we need their participation. Right now, younger people have been registered at somewhat lower rates for vaccine than older groups. Makes sense, older folks are more vulnerable and more eager to get vaccine but we wanted to signal… more supply is coming. Get registered now,” Bieber said.
Bieber said if supply keeps up, every New Mexican who wants a vaccine should be able to get one in the next few months but that also depends on New Mexicans actually wanting a vaccine, and getting whatever one is offered to them. Bieber says there have been some instances of people showing up to appointments but walking away when the clinic didn’t have the kind of vaccine they wanted.
New Mexicans can call 1-855-600-3453 and press option 0 for vaccine questions and then option 4 for tech support. Individuals who require additional accommodations, such as a ride to a vaccine event or a wheelchair upon arrival, will receive a call back from the Aging and Disability Resources Center or the UNM Office of Community Health. Additionally, family members or others can provide assistance with registration.
Opening up vaccines to everyone also meets President Joe Biden’s directive for all states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1. As of Wednesday, nearly 800,000 New Mexicans have registered to get the vaccine.