Top physicians optimistic NM's vaccine supply could grow - Albuquerque Journal

Top physicians optimistic NM’s vaccine supply could grow

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The top physicians at Albuquerque-area hospitals said there are plans to open additional large-scale vaccination sites in the city, and they are optimistic that the state’s vaccine supply could increase in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health says its data reporting system, which shows vaccinations in each of New Mexico’s 33 counties, is being revised to more accurately reflect the number of residents receiving vaccines.

Dr. David Pitcher, executive physician at the University of New Mexico Health System, said that the vaccination clinic at the Pit arena will be open this week and health officials expect to administer about 1,600 doses per day.

He said clinic operations had been scaled back last week because of a shortage of supplies. But he’s optimistic that the clinic will continue to increase its daily capacity in the coming weeks.

“Every day we learn something new, and we learn how to be more efficient and how to move more patients through,” Pitcher said. “I expect the number we’re able to do per day to continue to increase over time as both the supply and our learning take hold.”

Dr. Denise Gonzales, chief medical officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, said Presbyterian is prepared to open a vaccination clinic at Aloft Plaza, 9201 San Mateo NE, where thousands could be vaccinated daily.

Such a clinic would allow for additional drive-through sites or smaller clinics for folks with mobility problems, she said.

But Gonzales said those plans are contingent on the supply of the vaccine.

“We’re just waiting for vaccine,” she said. “But we have everything set up.”

The state expects to receive more than 59,500 vaccine doses this week. But how that supply is distributed continues to raise questions.

The New Mexico Department of Health on Monday announced a change in the way COVID-19 vaccination data is reported to the public on its website.

Beginning Tuesday, the number of residents vaccinated will be reported on the DOH online map by county of residence, not county of vaccination.

The DOH vaccination map provides county-by-county totals, including vaccines per 100 residents and the number of people who have been partly or fully vaccinated.

The totals led to questions about inequities.

For example, the data shows Santa Fe has distributed nearly 27 doses per 100 residents; Sandoval County, meanwhile, has given about seven shots per 100 residents, according to the dashboard. And Bernalillo County stands at 17.7 doses per 100 residents, according to the map.

How much the county data might change with the new DOH reporting is unclear.

All vaccinations in the state are reported to the New Mexico State Immunization Information System, which is supported by a third-party vendor.

“New Mexico’s vaccination program is committed to rapid – and equitable – distribution. So far, we’re doing very well on both fronts – and today’s announcement will ensure that New Mexicans have even more accurate information about where vaccinations are taking place around our state,” Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins said in the press release Monday.

The state is exploring ways to increase allocations for counties with low vaccination rates – including supporting new vaccine providers as they join the distribution system, the DOH said.

Under the state’s centralized vaccination system, people are asked to preregister online at, and are notified by the DOH when and where they can get an appointment to be vaccinated.

As of Monday, the DOH website said that 252,880 people out of about 800,000 who are currently estimated by the state to be eligible for vaccination have received their primary dose of the vaccine. About 89,000 had also received the second dose, which health officials say is needed for maximum immunity.

Meanwhile, more than half of the 13 people whose deaths were reported Monday were from northwestern New Mexico, an area of the state that has been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

But the overall number of confirmed cases continued a downward trend – 315 new cases were reported, including 120 from Bernalillo County.

The 13 deaths reported Monday pushed the state’s total toll to 3,412 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Those whose deaths were reported include three men from McKinley County in their 50s or 60s and four people from San Juan County, including a man in his 30s.

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