ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is set to fully reopen in a little more than a week after nearly hitting the governor’s 60% vaccination goal. So, how long will those mass vaccination sites stick around? While the state still wants unvaccinated folks to get shots, the mass vaccination sites could soon be a thing of the past.
“I would say really this month is the end of it. It just doesn’t make sense with the smaller numbers that we’re seeing,” said Dan Burke, Infectious Diseases Bureau Chief with New Mexico Department of health. He said mass vaccination sites at places like Expo New Mexico could be gone by the end of the month.
According to the University of New Mexico Hospital, which runs the vaccination site at The Pit, will run through the end of June. So far, UNMH has administered more than 118,000 COVID-19 vaccines at that location.
People getting their second vaccine dose or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine spiked last week while the state was giving its $100 incentive. However, since that stopped, numbers have gone down again to about 2,500 a day, according to updated numbers from the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard.
“It’s very clear that we had a downward curve in the numbers. And then the incentives, the a hundred dollar incentives, that curve popped up for a few days while it was being offered so people took advantage and made it go up again. But as soon as the incentives were done, it went back down the same way it was going,” said Burke. “Incentives work but they don’t give you a sustainable increase. they just, while they’re giving it out, you get people in.”
Burke said the state will likely start to see COVID-19 vaccines becoming a part of regular health care, where people can get offered a vaccine at a check-up or regular health care appointment.
“We’re falling back to a more sustainable position. So instead of putting all your nurses and all your people out in a large site, you’re, you’re setting up so you can do in-office care. So the public health offices will almost all be giving COVID vaccine,” said Burke. He said the state will also be offering COVID-19 vaccines as people gear up to update their immunizations for the upcoming school year.
“We’ll be giving COVID vaccines during Got Shots this year as well as the childhood vaccines. We’ll be giving COVID vaccines to kids who are in the right age group,” he said. The state is also partnering with businesses that want a COVID vaccination clinic at their place of work. It’s unclear when mass testing sites like the COVID-19 testing site at Balloon Fiesta Park will stick around, but it could be for a while.
“I think we need to maintain both the vaccines and testing going forward. You know, because we haven’t beaten this virus yet, we still need to have that capacity. You know, I hope it doesn’t go up again but it could with the variants and everything. So, I think the idea is, keep as much testing in place as possible,” said Burke.