ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While New Mexico is one of the leading states in its vaccination rollout, the process has hit a few snags. Now, there is confusion on when teachers should be getting their shots.
Albuquerque Public School says it was hoping to vaccinate its Phase 1A and Phase 1B employees soon. However, the state says teachers shouldn’t be getting vaccinated just yet despite some districts already starting. APS is waiting for the green light from the state to start vaccinating its employees in the state’s 1B phase.
“I believe the state is working really hard to get everybody vaccinated but the confusion comes in when some teachers in some districts are able to get vaccinated and the teachers at APS are not,” Ellen Bernstein, President of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, said. “What we’ve heard from the state is first older New Mexicans, 75 and older are getting vaccinated. What we don’t know when it will be the turn for the educators. The confusion comes in when they heard other people in other districts were getting vaccinated.”
Rio Rancho Public Schools said it was starting to vaccinate its teachers and education staff over the weekend. Santa Fe Public Schools said it has already started vaccinating its employees who work with kids in the classroom through a partnership with Albertson’s. Bernstein said she’s getting questions about this from APS teachers.
“They want to get vaccinated. They don’t understand why some have it and some don’t. And again, we don’t want to jump the line. We want older New Mexicans to be vaccinated but we don’t have any information about when our turn will happen,” she said.
The New Mexico Department of Health is reminding people that the state is only currently vaccinating the first two subsets of Phase 1B which are individuals 75-years-old and older, and those who are 16-years-old and older with medical conditions making them a greater risk to the virus. It’s not clear when the state will move into the latter subsets of Phase 1B which would include early education teachers.
“The educators that are emailing me and calling me are ready to get vaccinated. They’re ready when the state is ready. And we’d love to know when that is,” Bernstein said. KRQE also asked APS if it has a vaccination plan for when the vaccine is available to the district. A spokesperson for the district would only say that the district is following any and all guidelines from the state. But, Bernstein said there is a plan in place. “You’d have to ask the APS administration about their vaccination plan. But they did let me know that they have a working plan ready to be put in place as soon as they get…vaccinations,” she said.
The New Mexico Department of Health sent KRQE the following statement in response to the confusion with some districts vaccinating employees while others are not:
“DOH has been clear with providers across the state: New Mexico is in the first two subphases of Phase 1B. We are currently vaccinating people 75 years or older or people 16+ with qualifying medical conditions. We are not yet vaccinating frontline essential workers or other subsequent subphases.
We understand New Mexicans’ eagerness to schedule vaccinations, and we are equally eager to distribute vaccines. Doing so, however, depends on supply. New Mexico – like all states – depends on the federal government for its vaccine shipments, and we are making the most of those shipments by distributing vaccines faster than almost every state in the country. While supply is limited, however, the state is committed to ensuring that vaccine goes to those who are most exposed and/or vulnerable to COVID-19 – and that means vaccinating according to the phase distribution schedule.”