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NM inches closer to 60% vaccination goal

In this June 1 photo, Michael Arias of Albuquerque fishes along the Pecos River near Terrero. The state is offering hunting and fishing licenses as part of a campaign to encourage new vaccinations against COVID-19. Arias has already been vaccinated. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations accelerated this week as New Mexico reported Tuesday that about 9,000 more people got their shots, pulling the state within 1.5 percentage points of its goal.

The Department of Health is aiming to have 60% of state residents 16 and older complete their vaccination shots by Thursday — a threshold that would trigger the lifting of business capacity restrictions two weeks later.

The state reported on Tuesday that another 8,965 residents had completed their vaccination shots — a daily pace that, if kept up through Thursday, would allow New Mexico to reach the 60% goal.

The uptick in daily vaccinations comes as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration ramps up incentives — including free child care, $100 in cash for individuals and $1 million for county governments that improve their vaccination rates.

About 58.5% of residents 16 and over are now vaccinated against COVID-19, or about 25,773 people short of the goal. The percentage jumped 0.6 percentage points over the last day, well above the usual rate.

The incentives now offered included:

• $100 to anyone who either gets the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second of the two shots required for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines by Thursday.

• $1 million to any county that boosts the number of vaccinated residents by 10% from Sunday to Thursday this week. The money can be used for infrastructure or other projects that meet guidelines for the use of federal stimulus funds.

• Free drop-in appointments for child care are available at 18 KinderCare and La Petite Academy locations in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, and Santa Fe. Call KinderCare at (866) 337-3105 or La Petite at (833) 459-3557 to learn more.

• People who are vaccinated can also opt in to a lottery that will award $250,000 cash prizes and one $5 million prize.

New Mexico is counting on the incentives to help boost vaccination rates now that the supply exceeds demand.

Health officials confirmed to The Associated Press that New Mexico’s inventory includes nearly 493,000 doses that are being stored in freezers around the state. Expiration dates range from this week through September. The state also has donated 372,600 doses of its undelivered allocation back to the federal government.

The state on Tuesday reported 122 new cases of COVID-19 but not additional virus-related deaths.

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