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Editorial: As NM sees light at end of COVID tunnel, vaccinations crucial

Nine more weeks. Roughly 60 more days. About 1,500 hours.

That’s what it comes down to after living under a public health threat that has killed more than 4,000 New Mexicans, put tens of thousands of our residents out of work and locked hundreds of thousands of our kids out of schools.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s announcement Wednesday that she plans to fully reopen the state in nine weeks is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve all yearned for. At last we’ve got a path out of this pandemic, thanks to many New Mexicans’ responsible mask-wearing and social distancing, as well as our high vaccination rates. Kudos to all those New Mexicans who have taken one or two shots for the team – and for themselves, their friends, their co-workers, their neighbors, their fellow parishioners and their families.

The governor said Wednesday the state expects 60% of adults will be fully vaccinated by June 30. New Mexico has been among the nation’s leaders in getting shots in people’s arms. Currently, about 42% of adults are fully vaccinated and about 58% are partially vaccinated. Lujan Grisham said if we meet the 60% target, the state would finally jettison its color-coded maps showing how many people can eat inside a restaurant in county A, how many can have a picnic in county B or how many can go to the movies in county C.

Some cities and states are offering incentives to get vaccinated. Detroit is offering $50 to people who give others a ride to vaccination sites. West Virginia is giving $100 savings bonds to people between 16 and 35 who get shots. Private businesses are offering free doughnuts, free food, free beer, even “joints for jabs” in New York City and Washington.

At some point soon the question will become what constitutes an emergency and whether we should still be under one. But we’re not there yet. We need reluctant New Mexicans to get vaccinated. Starting Monday, New Mexicans age 16 and up can schedule a vaccine – go to Anyone hesitant should talk to their doctor, who has their medical history and best interests in mind. It’s disturbing that the state is only ordering 75% of the vaccines it’s allotted by the federal government, down from 100%, because that’s all it can use.

Our long COVID-19 nightmare could soon be over. And the sooner New Mexicans get fully vaccinated, the sooner we’ll be able to establish our “new normal” lives.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.