NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Nearly 100,000 combined doses of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines shipped to New Mexico this week. However, the number of people who’ve signed up to get a shot remains around a quarter of the state’s total population.
As of Thursday afternoon, the state’s COVID vaccine dashboard indicates 683,793 people have registered for vaccination. 627,665 primary doses of vaccine have now been administered.
When the state opens the vaccination process to the next groups of New Mexicans relies in part on making sure medical providers can reach people. State data indicates that only around 130,000-people have been added to the state vaccine portal’s registry since late-January.
State health officials are still constantly reminding New Mexicans to get registered. At a Wednesday news conference, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said, “So please, if you’ve not signed up, if you’re not a part of that 680,000, please register for your vaccine.”
Department of Health officials was unable to provide KRQE News 13 with data Thursday indicating how many of the 683,793 people registered through the state’s vaccine portal still need to receive a vaccine. The state says more than 800,000 New Mexicans are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
While many medical providers administering vaccines are continuing to use their own patient roles to reach vaccine-eligible individuals, eventually the state’s portal will be a critical asset in helping to contact people. NMDOH says more than 90% of medical providers are signed up to use the state’s official vaccine portal.
Newly posted data on the state’s vaccine dashboard shows some of the different counties that are thriving and lagging behind in vaccine registration. The top five counties leading the vaccine registry include Los Alamos (70.2%,) Santa Fe (56.4%,) Taos (57%,) Colfax (50.1%,) and Bernalillo (46.2%.)
The five counties with the lowest vaccine registry rates include Lea (10%,) Union (10.2%,) Curry (19.1%,) De Baca (19.6%,) and Guadalupe (21.1%.)
The lack of registration is pronounced in both the northwest and southeast parts of the state. A large portion of northwest New Mexico’s population is expected to be served by vaccines provided by the Indian Health Services and processes setup through sovereign tribes. In southeast New Mexico’s Lea, Eddy, Chaves, Otero, De Baca, Roosevelt, and Curry counties, the vaccine registration rate remains between 10% and 28%.
KRQE News 13 asked NMDOH Secretary, Dr. Collins, Wednesday if the state had a goal of getting out a certain number of vaccines by a certain date. Collins did not specify any numeric goals or dates.
“We want to get as many shots in the arms of New Mexicans as we can,” Dr. Collins said. “And it really depends on the supply, so as we see more information moving forward and more long term, we can project better where we expect to be by the summer, but right now it’s really to get shots in arms most efficiently.”
Politics may also play a role in places where New Mexico is seeing lower vaccine registration rates. According to a recent national survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of Democrats who reported being vaccinated or wanting to do so as soon as possible increased between December and February from 47% to 75%. Among Republicans, the rate of those who reported being vaccinated or wanting to do so as soon as possible increased between December and February from 28% to 41%.
KRQE News 13 also asked the NMDOH Thursday how it was tracking data to see when it’s ready to move to the next phase of vaccination. NMDOH Communications Director Matt Bieber responded in a written statement saying, “Broadly, we aim to transition when we’ve offered first shots to 60% within a given subphase.”