State deals with vaccine hesitancy amid trying to reach governor’s vaccination goal

New Mexico News

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is counting down the time to hit the governor’s goal to have 60% of the state fully vaccinated in order to fully reopen by June 30th. To meet the deadline, 21,307 more New Mexicans need to get fully vaccinated by Thursday night.

If just a fraction of people eligible for the booster shot got it done by Thursday evening, we’d hit the Governor’s goal on time. The Department of Health said there are two things holding them back. “It ain’t over til its over, so we’re working really hard on this,” said Dr. David Scrase, the New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary.

Nearly 59% of New Mexicans 16 and older are considered fully vaccinated. If we hit 60%by Thursday night, the Governor promised to release New Mexico from the county-color-coded system and fully reopen June 30th. New Mexico might just miss the mark but health officials were optimistic today. “I’m confident that we’ll end up doing the right thing for the people of New Mexico,” said Dr. Scrase.

Over 21,000 New Mexicans need to either get their booster dose or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine Wednesday and Thursday, while 85,000 New Mexicans still need to get their booster shots. So why haven’t they? “We do see that hesitancy everywhere,” said Matt Bieber with the Department of Health. “Rumors are not limited by geography the internet lets them go everywhere.”

The Department of Health said misinformation and myths are the top reasons. So they’re hosting more town halls. “Just having a forum asking questions hearing from scientific experts in a respected open dialogue kind of way that’s not politicized, not angry, not contentious, its just information in a respectful civic dialogue,” said Bieber. “We’ve been doing a lot of that through our town halls, our Facebook and Instagram.”

The state also blames lack of access to the shot, so they’re doing more to make it easier for the vaccine to come to them. “You can have a vaccine [event] show up to your business to your place of employment and just go out to your parking lot and get your shot,” said Bieber.

And of course money has helped. About 14,000 took advantage of the state’s $100 bonuses on Monday and Tuesday and that’s not all. Late last month, the state created a Trusted Voices campaign to let New Mexicans hear from people in their communities. “I chose to be part of our story of survival and chose to continue our traditions and culture by protecting myself and others,” said a physician in the Trusted Voices campaign video.

There’s also the Vax-to-the-Max sweepstakes that award major cash prizes to vaccinated people. The first drawing is Friday and four winners will get $250,000 each. Dr. Scrase said the incentives are working, saying they’ve seen 30% more people schedule a booster dose this week and five times as many people get a J&J dose this week.

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