Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham was one of just six governors invited to share best vaccine practices with the White House Tuesday and said she believes her administration got a major part of vaccine distribution right from the get-go.
“We had the first in the nation registration system and while I do agree registering for 16-17-year-olds may not be optimum, I was actually pleasantly, surprised at the number of New Mexicans who early registered for a vaccine,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 919,000 New Mexicans have registered for the vaccine through the state’s online portal. The governor told the president the registration data helped the state make sure the vaccine was going to all corners of New Mexico.
“That data then allowed us to see whether or not we were getting minority populations, whether we were getting to rural and frontier areas in the state, whether high concentrations of extreme poverty, whether we were getting to those areas, which meant we could then drive vaccine, both access, and delivery, to those populations,” said Lujan Grisham.
The numbers show the state moved quite quickly through vaccinating people who registered. Only about 150,000 of the 919,000 people registered haven’t received their first dose.
To inspire more people to get vaccinated, the Governor announced she’s turning to a tried-and-true method the state has already been using.
“With the number of people we have on Medicaid, more than half our population, we used Medicaid as an obvious tool to also, right, push out vaccines, and now we’re going to incentivize vaccines through Medicaid in the doctor’s offices,” said Lujan Grisham.
Lujan Grisham told President Biden that in Medicaid patients have a sort of points or reward system, that’s in place to inspire people to improve their health.
“So, we maximize, we give you more of those points so you can buy sports equipment for your family and kids, so you can engage in fresh farmers markets. This is another way we get those really hard to reach populations using Medicaid as a huge driver in our registry system,” said Lujan Grisham.
The Governor says her team is now working on using that strategy on members of the general public, who have not yet received a Coronavirus vaccine.
“You know, is that hunting and fishing licenses? Can we offer a lottery for a private prize, a tag for hunting? Can we have an event with food trucks and, for those who are of age, our craft breweries?” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.
The Governor says her office is working on that incentive package now, and also mentioned holding vaccination events at popular shopping areas or areas known for community events, like Nob Hill.
“We’re going to continue doing our mobile clinics. We’re going to continue to do vaccines in-home. We’re going to push vaccines to primary care doctors. We’re going to keep doing events. We’re going to do pop-up clinics wherever you want them- churches, employers, your favorite place to do shopping,” said Lujan Grisham.
The Governor says that if the state’s vaccine pace keeps up, she believes New Mexico will hit 60% fully vaccinated goal and fully reopen before June 30.
Some of New Mexico’s Pueblos, tribes, and the Navajo Nation have already blown past that 60% goal with some having 70%, all the way up to 95% of their populations fully vaccinated.