SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Six states are opening up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to all adults Monday. Here in New Mexico, it could be a couple more weeks before we follow suit. Despite others expanding eligibility more, New Mexico is still leading the country when it comes to the rate at which it is getting people vaccinated.
“We’re doing great,” said Matt Bieber, the communications director for the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). “Well over 40 percent of our folks have gotten at least a first shot. Well over a quarter have gotten fully vaccinated at this point, and that’s only going to get faster as we get additional supply from the federal government.”
Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal put New Mexico first among U.S. states for the highest percentage of the population fully vaccinated and the percentage of people who have gotten at least one shot. States like South Dakota and Alaska are close behind whereas states like Georgia and Alabama are trailing toward the bottom.
NMDOH believes the faster vaccine rollout here is in part because of the statewide registration system and the problem-solving when it comes to addressing logistical challenges like transportation or storage of vaccines.
“We have meetings with all kinds of partners, internal and external, all day long to problem-solve and really discuss the small issues that come with a logistical operation of this complexity,” Bieber said.
A little more than a week ago, New Mexico expanded vaccine eligibility to include people 60 and older and other essential workers who cannot do their jobs at home, like retail and restaurant workers. The next step will be allowing anyone 16 or older to get the vaccine. Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said last week that will likely be in mid-April for New Mexico.
However, Monday is the day for Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. Other states are expected to do the same throughout the week as well. Overall, more than a third of adults in the U.S. have gotten at least one shot so far.