NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico is one of the leaders in the nation for vaccine rollout, but some New Mexicans who have been eligible for months are still waiting to get the call from the state to set up a vaccine appointment and they’re frustrated. East Mountain couple, Michael and Juliet Milligan, said they feel helpless in the vaccine process and with eligibility expanding on Friday, are worried they may fall through the cracks.

“It’s really frustrating and we’re concerned she’s going to get the virus before she gets the vaccine,” Michael, who has received his first shot, said. The concern is for his wife Juliet, who is 68-years-old and has cancer, asthma, and diabetes. She falls under the state’s first subset of Phase 1B and registered soon after the state’s portal was announced but she still has yet to get contacted by the state to set up a vaccine appointment.

“It’s frustrating. I can’t sleep at night. You know, because it’s depressing,” Juliet said. “I just don’t like the fact that I’m in a bigger pool now.” It makes the couple question the state’s priorities.

“The first thing that was said is that they want New Mexico to remain one of the nation’s vaccination leaders. Well, why is that important? Why are the numbers important? The vaccination to the right people should be important,” Michael said. KRQE News 13 asked the state’s Health Department why eligibility is expanding when some in earlier phases like Juliet still haven’t been able to set up an appointment.

“All the people in those first subsets will still be prioritized for vaccination. What you’re asking is a very common question among those still not vaccinated, and it’s understandable. There are parts of the state where vaccines is made available but not many appointments are made. Opening eligibility will allow those areas greater flexibility to be able to vaccinate those who do…want to be vaccinated,” said Jim Walton, a spokesperson with the New Mexico Department of Health.

“We’re still prioritizing the early phases so if you’re 1A or 75 plus or 60 plus with chronic conditions you should expect to get invited sooner than somebody in 1C,” Matt Bieber, another spokesperson with NMDOH, said. But the Milligans are still left waiting for the call.

“We keep hearing her group is being prioritized yet we don’t see that,” Michael said. The NMDOH said anyone who is in a position like this should call the state’s hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

Bieber said the region can play a role in when a vaccine is available, which is part of the reason why the state expanded eligibility. “Part of it was because there are places in the state where providers couldn’t find anybody anymore in the eligible groups to vaccinate and they were doing the right thing waiting, not going ahead and breaking phase but by the same token we want to maintain momentum. We hit that point where the choice was either slow down a lot or open it up wider and make more folks eligible and that’s what we’ve done,” Bieber said.

The state tries to vaccinate 60% of a group before making the next group of New Mexicans available for a vaccine.