SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

400,000 New Mexicans register for coronavirus vaccine as state moves to Phase 1B

Algernon D'Ammassa
Las Cruces Sun-News

SANTA FE – Nearly 400,000 New Mexicans have signed up on the state's vaccine registration website to be notified when and where they are eligible to receive their COVID-19 shots since it launched three weeks ago.

Meanwhile, improvements are being implemented to make sure people who have received the initial dose are notified about the second booster two to three weeks after the initial dose, and more workers are being hired to staff the state health department's COVID-19 hotline after widespread complaints of delays and disconnected calls. 

New Mexico Health Secretary-designate Tracie Collins opened her update on the state's vaccination effort Monday saying the state boasts one of the highest administration rates of vaccine in the U.S., having delivered 78,143 out of 170,000 doses of two COVID-19 vaccines, or 46 percent, with more than 30,000 doses administered within the last seven days based on reports from 81 percent of vaccine providers. 

Money:Public can attend Virtual Roundhouse for insights on business trends, session priorities

The state Department of Health announced last week that it was beginning Phase 1B of vaccine distribution, with people aged 75 and older next in line, along with people over the age of 16 who have a list of chronic health conditions that can exacerbate complications of COVID-19 disease, and then frontline essential workers such as grocery workers, K-12 and higher education workers, and others whose duties cannot be performed remotely. 

Phase 1B also includes people held in custody at detention centers and correctional facilities as well as staff.

Meanwhile, those now registering for vaccine and belonging to Phase 1A — such as frontline healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff and workers in other healthcare and congregate settings — will still be given priority, Collins said.

A slide from the New Mexico Department of Health depicts the tiered plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccine in the state.

The tiered approach allows vaccine to be rolled out to groups based on their vulnerability as supplies of vaccine come in, and Collins voiced hope that the incoming Biden administration would assist in accelerating the process.

Phase 1C, consisting of New Mexicans aged 60 and older and more categories of workers such as food service and retail, is anticipated to begin the spring, with Phase 2 — the general public — becoming eligible in the summer.  

Because a large percentage of New Mexico's population suffers from chronic conditions included in Phase 1B, the new phase represents a significant opening of potential demand for vaccine even though, as she put it, "we still don't have an overwhelming supply."

Weather:Weekend storm in New Mexico expected to bring moisture to the north, wind to the south

She said that vaccines are allocated to providers all over the state based on anticipated volume, and said no doses had been discarded in part because providers have discretion to move forward on the vaccine phases in order to "get vaccine in arms" and avoid wasting doses. 

She also asked for patience as the DOH remedies problems with the registration website, at cvvaccine.nmheath.org, and hotline. 

The vaccine registration is also available via telephone for residents without a computer or internet connection. The number to register is 1-855-600-3453, with callers instructed to press option 0 for vaccine questions and then option 4 for tech support.

New Mexico Health Secretary-designate Tracie Collins speaks during a video news conference on COVID-19 vaccine distribution on Monday, Jan. 11. 2021.

Meanwhile, Collins said that over 10,000 orders had been placed for saliva-sample test kits provided to New Mexicans for free from Vault Health. The kits are directly shipped to recipients to complete on a Zoom video call with a technician, and then shipped back to the company for lab analysis. 

More information about the kits and how to register is available at http://learn.vaulthealth.com/nm/. The registration process asks for insurance information but the tests and shipping are provided at no cost, and Collins encouraged residents to take advantage of it.

Which groups are in which phase?

Phase 1A

  • Hospital personnel
  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
  • Medical first-responders
  • Workers in congregate settings (e.g. shelters, correctional facilities, group homes)
  • Home based healthcare/hospice workers

Phase 1B

  • People aged 75 and up
  • People aged 16 and up with risk for COVID-19 complications
  • Early education, K-12 and higher ed workers who cannot work remotely
  • Caregivers who cannot work remotely
  • Grocery workers
  • Food and agricultural workers who cannot work remotely
  • Public transit workers 
  • Critical manufacturing workers who cannot work remotely
  • Public health and public safety workers who cannot work remotely
  • Workers in mortuaries
  • Indigent care workers who cannot work remotely
  • Workers in non-hospital laboratories
  • Residents of congregate settings

Phase 1C

  • People aged 60 and older
  • Transport/logistics workers who cannot work remotely
  • Workers in utilties, water, wastewater and energy who cannot work remotely
  • Food service and retail workers
  • Shelter and housing workers
  • Financial service workers who cannot work remotely
  • IT and communications workers who cannot work remotely
  • Workers in legal and accounting who cannot work remotely
  • Media workers who cannot work remotely
  • Veterinary and livestock workers

Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.