New Mexico shifts vaccine clinic strategy to shorten wait times


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) said it will be moving away from large-scale vaccination clinics. Instead of doling out several thousand vaccine doses at one clinic, the state said it will focus on clinics limited to about 1,000 to 1,500 people.

“Spend less time in line, spend less time in the building or, if it’s a drive-thru, in their car, and just try to keep it more convenient,” said NMODH Media Manager David Morgan.

Morgan said the goal is to get people in and out in about 20 to 25 minutes, and that includes the 15 minutes of waiting after receiving the shot to make sure there aren’t any negative reactions. Morgan said the vaccine clinic at the Rio Rancho Event Center Tuesday will likely be the state’s last of that size.

There were roughly 3,500 doses available. However, as of Tuesday morning, Rio Rancho Fire Chief Paul Bearce said that less than two-thirds of those appointments were full. He said Walgreens was working with the state to send out additional notifications to get more people signed up.

“Where we’re at right now is a really good place in terms of supply and demand being closer together than it has been since the vaccine rollout has occurred,” Morgan said.

The state is hosting clinics at Expo New Mexico next week for Albuquerque Public School students 16 and over, along with their families. However, APS said earlier Tuesday that not all 1,500 of those spots had been filled. The district has about 20,000 students who are 16 or older.

Any appointments students do not fill by Tuesday night, will be open to the general public. Still, APS said this is not a sign of a lack of demand. There may be another key factor here. The district pointed out that just Monday the state changed the requirements so parents no longer have to accompany their 16- or 17-year-old children.

Instead, parents can simply fill out a consent form. That vaccine clinic is scheduled to take place over three days next week in the middle of the afternoon, which would have made it tough to get to for working parents.

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