ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Teachers across New Mexico are trying to get vaccinated. Some said it is the biggest holdup between them and returning to the classroom. Meanwhile, other teachers have been able to jump the line. Now, the state is looking into the provider allowing them to do so.
Some teachers said that they have been able to pick up the phone and get their vaccine taken care of with no problems, even though they are not included in this current phase of distribution. Some teachers said they are thankful after receiving both doses of the vaccine. “I actually am vaccinated,” Janay Wilson said. “I know that a lot of other teachers were still waiting on that.”
Wilson is an Albuquerque Public School teacher in her 20s with no underlying conditions. “I have another teacher friend who teaches high school,” Wilson said. “She let me know that she got the vaccination. I asked her how, and she gave me the number to a pharmacy and said, ‘Tell them you are a teacher.'”
Wilson said she called the Neighborhood Market Walmart at Menaul and Juan Tabo. She said she was scheduled immediately after telling the pharmacy she was a teacher. She said she received her first dose in mid-January and her second last week. “I received both doses of the Moderna vaccine,” Wilson said.
KRQE News 13 asked the New Mexico Department of Health how it was possible since the state’s current phase of distribution does not yet include teachers. Right now, those over 75 and those over 16 who are at risk, are eligible to receive the vaccine in phase 1B. Teachers are next in line.
NMDOH said that there are conditions when providers may vaccinate out of sub-phase. For example, a provider may have a vaccine that is almost expired, or they are unable to fill appointments within the current phases. The governor said last week that many teachers are already vaccinated. “Frankly, early in the vaccine process, a lot of educators, and it’s not their fault, got vaccinated because hospitals or pharmacies panicked,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday. “They didn’t use our distribution system. No educator got into trouble for that. We didn’t get mad or vilify, but we wouldn’t do that. We have to be fair and equitable.”
NMDOH said they will be exploring this case further, and if needed, remind the Neighborhood Market Walmart about exactly where the state is in distribution. NMDOH said that every provider in the state is obliged to follow the phased distribution requirements. “I feel more comfortable now that I am vaccinated to go back into my classroom,” Wilson said.
NMDOH said they have reminded providers on multiple occasions about the distribution requirements. News 13 reached out to Walmart but did not hear back.
The Albuquerque Teachers Federation said that it had an agreement with Walmart and had secured doses for teachers as part of a planned event last month, but the state notified them the day before the event that they would not allow it. The state also canceled a similar event for Rio Rancho schools that same week.