Eastern San Juan County has lower COVID-19 vaccination rates than western portion

Communities in the western portion of the county see high vaccination rates

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • San Juan County had 63.2 percent of residents fully vaccinated and 75.8 percent of residents with at least one vaccine dose as of June 21.
  • Four zip codes have less than 50 percent of residents fully vaccinated.
  • Abboud’s biggest concern for unvaccinated county residents is the emergence of different variants of COVID-19 making its way into New Mexico and San Juan County.

FARMINGTON — The eastern portions of San Juan County have lower COVID-19 vaccination rates when compared to the western parts of the county, according to a review of New Mexico Department of Health data.

A county health official warns the lower vaccination rates in ZIP Codes for Aztec, Bloomfield and the La Plata area could create a false sense of security for residents when dealing with COVID-19.

Rita Abboud, a certified nurse practitioner at the San Juan County Public Health Office in Farmington, shared the COVID-19 vaccination rates for 10 ZIP Codes located within the county.

San Juan County had 63.2 percent of residents fully vaccinated and 75.8 percent of residents with at least one vaccine dose as of June 21, according to state Department of Health Data.

San Juan County Public Health Certified Nurse Practitioner Rita Abboud talks about the COVID-19 vaccination rates across the county on June 21 at the Farmington office.

Communities like Waterflow (87421), Shiprock (87420) and Kirtland (87417) had 100 percent of its population fully vaccinated as of June 20,

Fruitland (87416) was listed at 78.46 percent with Flora Vista (87415) at 58.18 percent and the 87402 zip code for Farmington at 56.30 percent.

Four communities have less than 50 percent of residents fully vaccinated.

MORE:San Juan County, Navajo Nation COVID-19 case updates for June 2021

Farmington (87401) is listed at 47.40 percent, La Plata (87418) at 42.49 percent, Bloomfield (87413) with 42.13 percent and Aztec (87410) with the lowest rate with 35.58 percent.

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When asked why some communities show vaccination rates like 100 percent, the New Mexico Department of Health said in a statement that state data separates those 16 years old and older into one category and those 12 years old years old into a separate category.

The federal data the state receives doesn’t separate the two categories, which contributes to a high percentage.

For Abboud, it was hard to surmise what is causing the divide between the ZIP Codes without conducting focus groups.  

She also congratulated Indian Health Service and Northern Navajo Medical Center for outstanding vaccination efforts on the Navajo Nation.

She said the county public health office wants to let residents in communities like Aztec know they are more at risk to contract COVID-19 due to low vaccination rates, even though the county has more than 60 percent of residents fully vaccinated.

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“You're more at risk than you think, it's a false sense of security,” Abboud said. “That's why I think it's so important that people in San Juan County are aware of the ZIP Code breakdown.”

Abboud’s biggest concern for unvaccinated county residents is the emergence of different variants of COVID-19 making its way into New Mexico and San Juan County.

Those variants appear to be more contagious and could lead to individuals becoming sicker than those who contracted COVID-19 this time last year.

“Maybe some of us who were vaccinated get a little bit sick or become a carrier,” Abboud said. “Then we pass that on to someone who’s not vaccinated, and they get very, very sick. It sounds like these variants are more contagious and can cause more illness.”

President Joe Biden and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the highly-contagious Delta variant could pose a public health threat, according to USA Today.

It’s described as potentially deadlier, more easily transmissible and particularly dangerous for young people.

It comes as the Associated Press reports nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the country are amongst unvaccinated people.

While Aztec’s rate is low, Abboud gave credit to those who showed for a vaccine shot at a June 16 event at the county commission chambers when a $100 incentive was offered.

The event had about 36 walk-ins who didn’t haven’t an appointment.

The county public health office is starting to see a decrease in attendance at mass vaccination events in the area.

There were about 83 people signed up the day before a June 22 McGee Park event when two weeks earlier 173 people were treated.

San Juan County COVID-19 vaccine tracker:48% of people fully vaccinated

San Juan County health officials are working to find new ways to get new people vaccinated.

The office is partnering with Somos Un Pueblo Unido to hold an event with vaccinators who speak Spanish.

A vaccination booth will be set up at the San Juan County Fair later this year.

Abboud wants to remind the community they don’t have to attend a mass vaccination event to get their shot, or shots.

Several pharmacies in the community, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, Safeway, Kare Drug and Pinon Family Pharmacy, administer vaccines and offer appointments with flexible hours in the evenings and weekends.

“I don't want that to stop someone from getting their COVID-19 vaccine because they can't be at San Juan College at 11 o'clock in the morning,” Abboud said. “There's lots of providers in the community.”

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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