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San Juan County Commission hears update on COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — As San Juan County works to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, officials are working to ensure people who do not have access to the internet can still register to receive the vaccine.

The state has set up a website where people can fill out a form to receive the vaccine. However not everyone in San Juan County has access to a computer or internet to fill out the form.

County spokesperson Devin Neeley told the San Juan County Commission on Jan. 5 that the county is partnering with entities like San Juan United Way, San Juan College and the Farmington Public Library to provide a place where people who don’t have access to computers or the internet can register to get the vaccine.

The county has also reached out to the state about the form requiring an email address, which not everyone has.

Others are reading:COVID-19: What to expect when San Juan County gets the coronavirus vaccine

County Clerk Tanya Shelby further offered that the kiosks and tablets that were used to help people fill out the 2020 Census could be repurposed to help people register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

At this time, the vaccine is only available to certain people like healthcare workers and residents in nursing homes. This is phase 1A of the vaccine rollout based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mike Mestas

“Our mission from the (New Mexico) Department of Health is now and currently to provide phase 1A,” San Juan County Emergency Manager Mike Mestas said.

The county has partnered with Walmart Pharmacies, the Department of Health, San Juan Regional Medical Center and Presbyterian Medical Services to provide vaccines. The Department of Health is operating at McGee Park.

“We’re doing the divide and conquer method here in San Juan County so that we can get this vaccine and get it out quickly so that none of it is going to go to waste,” Mestas said.

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While the county is still focused on vaccinating people in the phase 1A categories, Mestas said some people who are not in the phase 1A category have received the vaccine. He said some people received a code from a family member that allowed them to get vaccinated at Walmart.

“That’s not to say that it’s taking it away from anybody because we have plenty of vaccine,” he said.

In another instance, two McGee Park workers received vaccines when a couple dentists did not show up for their appointments to be vaccinated at the park. Mestas said the vaccines were already at room temperature and could not be frozen again. To prevent those vaccines from going to waste, clinic staff provided the vaccines to those two essential workers.

Mestas said he has also received calls from concerned school district superintendents after the superintendents learned that school districts in Hobbs and Taos had received vaccines. Mestas said he reached out to his counterparts in those areas and learned that the low demand for vaccines in those areas led to the school districts receiving the vaccine.

Keep reading:Workers at Farmington hospital thankful staff received COVID-19 vaccine

“They didn’t want to waste vaccine,” he said. “They had exhausted their 1A list. Quite frankly, people weren’t wanting to come and get shots.”

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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