ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) –Vaccine supplies have eclipsed demand in New Mexico even as the state makes a hard push toward meeting a key vaccination goal Thursday.
Health officials have confirmed to The Associated Press that New Mexico’s inventory includes nearly 493,000 doses that are being stored in freezers around the state. Expiration dates range from this week through September. The state also has donated 372,600 doses of its undelivered allocation back to the federal government.
Health Department spokesman David Morgan has said New Mexico is adapting to shrinking demand for the COVID-19 vaccine in several ways. That includes ordering only a minimal number each week to cover requests from providers.
New Mexico is just shy of meeting its goal of having 60% of residents 16 and older fully vaccinated. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to hit that mark this week so she can follow through with plans to fully reopen the state by July 1.
The latest data from the state puts the vaccination rate at 58.5%. Meanwhile, about 67% of eligible residents have received at least one shot.
The state is offering cash incentives for people who get either their second shot or the one-time Johnson & Johnson shot by Thursday. Those who are vaccinated also can participate in a sweepstakes that includes a grand prize of $5 million.
The governor used social media Monday and Tuesday to promote the sweepstakes as various state agencies sent out emails encouraging people to get registered and vaccinated.
Vaccination rates have dropped off particularly in rural counties where some residents simply aren’t interested in getting shots. In Roosevelt County, less than 30% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.
More than 80% of residents in Los Alamos County — home to Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of the more affluent counties in the U.S. — have been vaccinated, placing it ahead of New Mexico’s other counties.
McKinley County, which has a high population of Native Americans, also is at the top of the list with a 77% vaccination rate. Overall, state data estimates that more than half of Native Americans have been inoculated.
State officials said the excess doses can be used to meet future demand over the coming months since they plan to continue with the vaccination push even after New Mexico meets its goal.