Here is a milestone to be proud of – since mid-December, New Mexico has administered more than 1.48 million vaccine doses.
More than 56% of New Mexicans aged 26 and older have received their first vaccine; 38% are fully vaccinated.
Thankfully, our vaccine rollout is working; New Mexico is leading the nation in the percentage of residents fully vaccinated. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have dropped significantly, although we unfortunately still see new cases and New Mexicans dying from the disease.
Still, hope is in the air. We are seeing patients return for check-ups, immunizations and postponed surgeries. We are memorializing and closing our dedicated COVID-units. We are contemplating summer barbecues and long-awaited family trips.
In New Mexico, we have all focused for months on the logistical challenges of providing vaccines to as many New Mexicans as possible. At the same time, our community can’t forget about the tremendous suffering we experienced with COVID-19.
In November, we saw our highest number of COVID-19 patients in Presbyterian hospitals. Our health care teams saw families decimated. They saw patients spend months in the hospital and cheered as they were finally well enough to go home, with months of recovery still ahead.
This is why we vaccinate – to avoid the destruction that COVID-19 can bring to our families. We vaccinate for each other.
This month, federal agencies took the cautious step of “pausing” distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccines due to six cases of a rare and serious blood clot condition. With 6.8 million doses already provided, that is a rate of less than 1 in a million.
As we await further guidance, it is important to consider what we should take away from this pause.
It does not mean that if you have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine you should be worried. It does mean that scientists are reviewing evidence, and health systems like ours will adjust our approach based on their guidance.
If you are still on the fence about getting a vaccine, here is what is most important – all available options are extremely effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.
Getting any of these vaccines offer our best hope of coming out of this pandemic, together.
And that, as nurses and physicians on COVID-19 units across New Mexico will tell you, is exactly what we want to see.