NM hopes to receive more vaccine doses next week - Albuquerque Journal

NM hopes to receive more vaccine doses next week

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico is expecting a boost in its COVID-19 vaccine supply next week as the federal government continues to push allocations to states.

Announcement of the anticipated increase – 22% over two weeks ago – was made by Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins on Wednesday as the state is now administering nearly 11,000 doses a day, up from about 9,000 a day in early February.

At the same time, 64% of those in the 1A top priority group, which includes health care workers and first responders, have received at least their first dose of vaccine, Collins said. Vaccination of that group began in December.

She said the state is still prioritizing that 1A group, then those 75 years old plus, followed by those 16 and older with a chronic health condition. A little more than 300,000 New Mexicans have received at least an initial dose of the two-dose vaccine regimen.

“The focus is on those who are at the highest risk,” Collins said at the COVID-19 public update.

Under the state’s phased-in plan, the next group to be eligible for a vaccine would be frontline essential workers who can’t work remotely, such as educators and grocery store employees. Then, vulnerable populations in congregate settings, to be followed by adults 60 and over.

“As soon as we can get more vaccine doses and we can get through those groups, at least 60%, then we can open it up to the next group,” Collins said. She said she couldn’t predict when that might be.

Meanwhile, vaccination appears to be driving down the daily incidence of COVID-19. For instance, there were 281 new cases and 12 additional deaths reported Wednesday.

Bernalillo County had the most cases, at 120, and the top three zip codes with the highest new case counts in the state were located on Albuquerque’s West Side and in the city’s far Northeast Heights north of Interstate 40.

The vaccine now seems to be reducing new cases somewhere between 20% and 24%, said Dr. David Scrase, secretary of the state Human Services Department and lead adviser to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on the state’s pandemic response, at Wednesday’s update.

“This is the most exciting thing that’s happening, I think, in the state right now for those of us who have been working on the pandemic for such a long time,” Scrase said. He added that mask-wearing (ensuring the mask is tight on the face), along with quarantines of those potentially exposed and social distancing, are still important tools to reduce COVID-19 spread.

But the threat of new strains of the virus still looms.

“What makes us all nervous is that some variants that we’re seeing around the world seem like they may be resistant to treatment or resistant to the vaccine itself,” Scrase said. “That’s going to be a big problem for us. For now, though, the more people we can get vaccinated, the better we are. We are monitoring that closely.”

Scrase also predicted that, with the fewer positive cases, more of the state’s counties would soon move from the strictest red level restrictions to yellow level, which relaxes some of the capacity restrictions on businesses and permits limited indoor dining. Red signifies “very high risk.”

The state reevaluates the county designations every two weeks.

“Our modeling suggests a fair number of additional counties next week (will go yellow), assuming there’s no big change in things, but we’ll see,” Scrase said.

More than half of the state’s 33 counties have moved into the yellow or green designation, which requires the fewest restrictions.

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