NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Major milestones were announced Friday in New Mexico’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The state Department of Health announced it’s administered more than one million doses of the vaccine. It’s also expanded into the next phase of eligible New Mexicans for the vaccine.
Everyone in Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C are now eligible. The Department of Health says combined, these phases represent approximately 1,620,000 out of the 1,680,605 New Mexicans who are aged 16 and over, and therefore eligible for the vaccine.
Even though most New Mexicans are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials said Friday it doesn’t necessarily mean people in phase 1C will get notified right away for an appointment.
“I’m in 1C, so 65 and up, no preexisting conditions,” explained Marshall Mourar. Like a lot of New Mexicans, Mourar has been eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He registered online as soon as it was announced.
“My elderly neighbors are getting it, my dad, my sister in Pennsylvania, everyone around me, and I just thought, why am I waiting?” Mourar said. Earlier this week, he drove to Amarillo where no appointment was required and got a shot.
Mourar said the last year has been rough, and he’s looking forward to getting back to some semblance of normal once he gets his second dose of the vaccine. “That’s when I’ll feel like, ‘okay, I can start meeting with friends indoors in their homes, and you know all the things I used to do,” said Mourar.
Phase 1C includes those 60 years and older, and more essential workers like airline and airport staff, utility workers, food service personnel, media, banking, and legal staff, oil and gas workers, and the list goes on. “Almost everybody’s eligible now,” explained Matt Bieber, Communications Director for the New Mexico Department of Health. He said the state will still prioritize those in earlier phases.
“Particularly if you have a 75 plus, or 60 plus with a chronic condition, you can expect to be invited on average, faster than somebody like me, or somebody lower down in 1C,” Bieber explained. “It’s really difficult to provide particular timelines for individuals about when they get that message,” he added.
While there are now three vaccines on the market, New Mexico is still awaiting more shipments from Johnson & Johnson, the single-shot vaccine that could help speed things up.
“End of this month or early next month, we expect the J&J manufacturing operation to be fully online, and large shipments to begin coming to New Mexico,” Bieber said.
How quickly people get an appointment may depend on which region of the state someone lives in, and how fast each community moves through each eligible group. “I think if you’re in one of those places that’s vaccinated basically all of the folks who were eligible, then you can expect a call a little sooner,” said Bieber. “I think if you’re in one of the metro areas, you might be waiting a little bit longer.”
What people can do, for now, is register online to receive a COVID vaccine. “More supply is on the way, and it’s really important that as soon as we have the shots available, we have folks in every community in every phase who are ready and eager to get the shots,” said Bieber.
“One of the folks who runs the system, the vaccinenm.org system, says it’s like a locomotive, we’ve gotta have coal in the engine to keep this thing moving, so please register,” Bieber added.
Bieber said New Mexico should be able to meet President Biden’s goal of making all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1 if federal supply keeps up. There’s only one phase left, phase two of New Mexico’s vaccine rollout, which the states hope to reach by next month.
As of Friday, March 19, 37.4% of New Mexicans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 22.4% are fully vaccinated. The state does not have totals of how many New Mexicans may have received the vaccine in other states.