NM starts preparing for COVID vaccine - Albuquerque Journal

NM starts preparing for COVID vaccine

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A vaccine against the coronavirus is not publicly available yet.

But with pharmaceutical companies racing to have a vaccine ready by early next year, top New Mexico health officials are already making plans about which state residents could get it first.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Monday that it’s too early to say whether the vaccine will be mandatory for any certain occupations or groups of people in New Mexico but that it will be strongly recommended for residents deemed to be at high risk.

The Democratic governor appeared to go a step further during a news conference last week, saying that New Mexicans should expect there will be a “mandatory population” for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Specifically, Lujan Grisham said, health care workers, educators, nursing home residents and emergency responders could be among that population, although she said it’s still unclear how widely available the vaccine will be and how effective it will be at preventing the virus.

“We’re going to have to see how much vaccine is available, and I do expect this: I expect there to be a fairly engaged … debate about mandatory populations more than the first responders,” Lujan Grisham said.

Under a 2003 state law, the governor’s administration has the authority to issue vaccine orders during a declared public health emergency.

Those who decline a vaccine for reasons of health, religion or conscience can be ordered to isolate or self-quarantine under the same law.

The Governor’s Office did not directly answer a question Monday about whether the Lujan Grisham administration would invoke that law once the coronavirus vaccine is available.

“While we don’t yet have a vaccine, and there are and will be several unknowns in the short- and midterm future about it, the overall key point is that the more people who get a vaccine, the safer we all are as a group,” Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said. “That’s going to be the underlying principle here no matter what the vaccine ultimately looks like.”

Sackett also said the state would, as a starting point, use existing recommendations for the flu vaccine to guide the coronavirus vaccine plan.

New Mexico’s Department of Health currently recommends an annual flu vaccine for young children, pregnant women, individuals ages 50 or older and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. It’s also recommended that Native Americans and residents of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities get a flu vaccine every year.

Rep. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras, said any state-level attempts to mandate a coronavirus vaccine for certain groups or individuals would likely generate pushback.

“I don’t think the government should be telling people what they have to put in their bodies,” Schmedes, a physician, said in a Monday interview.

However, he said, he would not oppose private nursing homes implementing mandatory vaccine policies for their residents.

A federal plan to help develop, manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine – called Operation Warp Speed – aims to provide at least 300 million doses of a vaccine by January.

As part of the operation, the federal government has reportedly doled out more than $10 billion to pharmaceutical companies.

With clinical trials underway, Lujan Grisham suggested that an existing state medical advisory team – whose work is focused on the state’s gating criteria for gradually reopening the economy – could eventually work on the vaccine priority issue.

Human Services Secretary David Scrase said the state could follow a similar protocol as it did when making standards for which COVID-19 patients might get ventilators in the case of a medical equipment shortage. Such a shortage has not materialized, although 718 New Mexico residents have now died due to complications from the disease.

Meanwhile, although many details – including the cost of administration – about the coronavirus vaccine remain unclear for now, the governor said many New Mexicans would welcome it.

“If it’s widely available, I’m getting a vaccine,” Lujan Grisham said. “I would want my family to get a vaccine. I want them to be as safe as they can now that we have this deadly virus living among us.”

Home » Journal North » Journal North Recent News » NM starts preparing for COVID vaccine

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Blake's still serving up the food that makes it ...
ABQnews Seeker
The late Blake Chanslor launched his ... The late Blake Chanslor launched his eponymous restaurant way back in 1952.
Filmed in ABQ, 'Flamin' Hot' tells the story of ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Flamin' Hot" begins streaming Friday, June ... "Flamin' Hot" begins streaming Friday, June 9, on Hulu and Disney+.
Local actress lands part in New Mexico-filmed Cheetos movie
ABQnews Seeker
On June 9, "Flamin' Hot," starring ... On June 9, "Flamin' Hot," starring New Mexico native Lora Martinez-Cunningham, is set to stream on both Hulu and Disney+.
Country duo LOCASH making stop at Isleta with Kane ...
ABQnews Seeker
LOCASH recently released the single, "Three ... LOCASH recently released the single, "Three Favorite Colors" which has already become a hit at its concerts.
Pitino is high on UNM newcomers as Lobos start ...
ABQnews Seeker
A wide variety of updates on ... A wide variety of updates on Lobo hoops as UNM players start summer workouts, including Pitino's thoughts on rivalry scheduling and much more.
APS Superintendent Scott Elder to step down at the ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Albuquerque Public Schools board is ... The Albuquerque Public Schools board is parting ways with Superintendent Scott Elder. He was officially given the full position just over two years ago. ...
Local golf: Lobo Herron has memorable run -- and ...
ABQnews Seeker
For Carson Herron, golf's longest day ... For Carson Herron, golf's longest day started when the alarms went off around 5:45 a.m ...
Lobo football adds transfer receiver from Mississippi State
ABQnews Seeker
Mississippi State transfer wide receiver Kaydin ... Mississippi State transfer wide receiver Kaydin Pope, listed at 6-feet, 175 pounds, announced his intention to transfer to New Mexico on Wednesday via social ...
Details emerge in Albuquerque triple homicide: Police say shooters ...
ABQnews Seeker
Late Wednesday, police detailed what they ... Late Wednesday, police detailed what they believe happened at the Northeast Albuquerque home just before midnight Saturday.