Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks Thursday during a coronavirus briefing livestreamed on Facebook.

New Mexico is preparing to receive the first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as early as Tuesday.

Don’t roll up your sleeves just yet.

Health care workers on the front lines of the crushing coronavirus pandemic will be at the front of the line.

During a virtual news conference Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the vaccine “a game changer” and “a huge bright spot” in the fight against the virus.

“There are not going to be enough vaccines for any state, including New Mexico, to be able to provide vaccines to every New Mexican who needs them and every New Mexican who wants them right away,” she said.

“But it tells me that with the vaccine distributions in the next three to six months, we are really going to see dramatic improvements in the risks associated with COVID-19 and the ability to begin to have sort of more normalcy in our everyday lives,” the governor added.

“Although, I submit to you, I think mask-wearing occurs for a year,” she said.

New Mexico is expected to receive 17,550 doses of the vaccine, which an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration endorsed for emergency use Thursday.

“Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration signs off, as expected, on the expert committee’s recommendation,” the Associated Press reported.

In a letter to the 37 hospitals in New Mexico that are poised to receive the first allotments of the vaccine, the state Department of Health said they should initially anticipate that “allocations will be less than demand until supply can catch up.”

“Over time, distribution strategies will change as more vaccine becomes available and more people are recommended for vaccination,” the letter states.

Lujan Grisham said New Mexico has the ability to deploy the first round of vaccines “where they need to go immediately.”

The governor also said the state is poised to receive “additional vaccines” in the future.

“The second vaccine that we expect to get FDA approval is from Moderna,” she said. “Those vaccines are slated for nursing home residents and staff. … It isn’t going to be enough to do every CNA — certified nursing aide — every staff person at a nursing home and every resident. Again, it’s looking at those high-risk facilities with high-risk residents, high-risk staff.”

Lujan Grisham said it will take several weeks of vaccines coming into the state before “we have holistically protected health care workers and long-term care residents.”

“Once that’s done — that will be well into, we anticipate, February, early March — then it’s essential workers, child care workers, corrections, police officers, first responders, individuals who are high risk,” she said. “We will be finalizing those plans that have to have federal approval, and we’re really looking at what those time frames look like to get those vaccines out and feeling very confident that New Mexico will do a productive, safe job.”

For the first shipment from Pfizer, the state is directing hospitals to vaccinate health care personnel “serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials,” the letter states.

The governor described that category of personnel as those working in intensive care units for COVID-19 patients.

“We will look at also health care workers who are on the high-risk category because of their own underlying conditions,” she said.

But the first allotment of vaccines is only expected to reach a portion of the high-priority category.

“Initial supply of vaccine will be limited and there may be settings where the initial vaccine supply is insufficient to vaccinate everyone in a priority group and sub-prioritization is necessary,” according to the letter from the Department of Health.

In an email, Matt Nerzig, a spokesman for the governor, called the letter “a major first step forward on preparing for the arrival of the first shipment” of the vaccine.

Pfizer Inc. recently announced New Mexico would be one of four states taking part in a trial to deliver the company’s vaccine, which early tests indicate is 90 percent effective. The state was chosen because its vast rural areas and 23 Native American tribes and pueblos will make distribution more difficult.

Overcoming the logistical hurdles during the trial phase will provide important information to New Mexico and other states for when they do their vaccine rollouts, Pfizer and New Mexico health officials said.

(17) comments

Lee DiFiore

Why the H E double hockey sticks is the FDA dragging its feet for?

Donato Velasco

election is over and it goes away

Angel Ortiz

Yup. You must believe in the Easter Bunny as well. Sad

Donato Velasco

rich people first in line ,, money buy's you space

Robin Williamson

No worse medical staff and our elders. If it isnt safe what then?

Amy Earle

The article clearly states that health care workers directly involved with virus patients will be vaccinated first. Obviously this is important as they on the front lines of the fight. As is in the beginning we won’t have enough vaccine for all medical personnel. No one is forgetting the nursing home patients or the workers who care for them. They are in the very first groups being vaccinated as they should be. This is all going to take time and for all of you who make a sport out of criticizing the governor, the countries shortage of vaccine to roll out to states is the fault of our incompetent POTUS. He was offered extra doses of vaccine multiple times and stupidly declined. Blame him or write to complain but he won’t read your complaint. He’s too busy trying to stage a coup to care about vaccines, the pandemic, or anything else but himself. We are going to obtain more vaccine. We will all get it but as with every state it is going to take time.

Mark Brown

good luck, let us know about all the side effects

Pete Gurule

I thought a vaccine delivery at this speed was impossible, dear Democrats? The mainstream media even told everyone to just forget about it and that it would be at least a couple of years out! And the picture the New Mexican posts with this article is of Grisham? Thanks Gov! You worked so hard to make this happen (not!)! I can't wait til the world gets back to normal and everyone's businesses open right back up because the vaccine is here. Sign me up!

Angel Ortiz

Regardless of who gets vaccinated first, there will always be Monday morning quarterbacks who will never be happy. Put on your big boy pants and get ready to wear your masks for a while. Aye!

Chris Mechels

Many countries prioritize the vaccine for those most at risk, the elderly. We are instead giving priority to health care workers, who are less at risk, with no discussion. Thus, more elderly will die, so the health care workers can have the vaccine. Even though the health care workers are employed to preserve the lives of the elderly.... Doesn't this seem, at minimum, worth a discussion?? To simplify, I pay you to preserve/prolong my life; and you decide your life is more precious than mine, and take my vaccine?? Is that morally/ethically sound??? Most countries are giving priority to the elderly, over the health care workers. We are not, and this is not justified, just announced. What's going on here? Have those workers on ethics?? They are betraying those they are "sworn" to serve. Why no media coverage?? Seems likes a "kill Granny" program to me.

rodney carswell


Robert Elliott

I agree. There will be no old people left to take to the hospital and cause the healthcare worker deaths anyway. Read todays journal article on the veterans home the governor just said she had to protect How many positive cases and employees 170. 9 now dead. Those remaining people need the vaccine asap. how many will die in the next 7 weeks if you don't vaccinate them asap?? This whole shutdown transferred loss of elderly years on the younger people via mental health issues, alcoholism, unemployment, 12000 missing students, and now you are going to kill the old people anyway. If you can lock up the entire state for the old people, give them the vaccine.

Now, this very night, in a different state, in a much much much smaller facility, my 88 year old mother with multiple health issues lives in assisted living. From her room if if you go down the hall and around the corner and through the double doors to into the memory care wing there are 4 current covid positive residents and also there have been 3 or 4 positive test employees, That is roughly 15 percent of the people there and all in past 2 weeks. It would be really nice to vaccine that facility before it becomes like the NM veterans facility discussed in the journal today. Literally , one extra day delay could be the time it spreads enough to kill my mother. The fda should be stating approval tonight since the advisory board has approved the pfizer vaccine and many of their vaccines are already spread out in the usa and should be utilized tomorrow if possible. Every minute matters. Maybe health care workers over 50 years old can be prioritized but give the rest to where the people are dying this very minute.

Robert Elliott

This disease spreads mostly without symptoms and many many more millions have had it than know. Is there any discussion of testing people for antibodies first before giving them a vaccine that someone else likely needs more? Those with previous exposure could be move to later in the vaccination priority and save a few precious vaccines for people more at risk.

Robin Williamson

If the vaccine works that is a working train of thought, but what if it doesnt? A few facts for consideration. My son was allergic to mmr, a long term researched, fda approved, safe if you are not allergic vaccine. My older son responded fine. My younger son nearly died and is developmentally damaged. The senate recently passed legislation to eliminate all liability if this rushed, not fda approved, unknown vaccine kills people. Why would they do that if they were sure it is safe? Are you sure you want your elderly mom in poor health to be in the first round of full scale trials? Vaccines even safe ones can kill if given to people who are sickly or malnourished. I'm not an anti vaxxer. All drugs effect most people like they are supposed to. There is always a small percent of people who are allergic, have no results from or even the opposite effect when taking them. No legitimate legal drug works the same on everyone. I dont take either vaccine boosters or anti vaxxers seriously they are too polarized. I do research and decide for myself. I've decided my family wont participate in this vaccination program until it is proven safe.

Bill Bruce

Chris...So nice of you to slam healthcare workers.... WE IN HEALTHCARE DIDN"T MAKE THE DECISION!!!! I Seriously hope you don't need any of us "that you pay" anytime soon! You haven't got a clue what we are dealing with! We are trying to save people! Don't you DARE question our ethics when you don't know us!! I don't want the vaccine!! I would gladly give it to someone who needs it more than I do, even you, Mr. Grinch!

Chris Mechels

Gee, I didn't think I slammed healthcare workers... or your ethics. I questioned our system, which has produced hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths, mostly those over 65. Most European countries, from what I read, are protecting those "most at risk" first. Health care workers are at risk, but have much lower mortality rates. If you really want to "save lives", then, at the end of the day, the elderly would get the meds first. Obvious, no... You get sick, they get dead... And, I do question the ethics of our system, in which those paid, and in some cases "sworn" to serve others, then put themselves first. The police are an obvious example of this. So, chill, I'm not attacking you, its our nihilistic system, which has no ethics/morals anymore. Trump is not the only one, as here in New Mexico our Democratic government looks about as bad. A corrupt pork barrel, which ranks at the bottom of the states. And, if I pay you, or anyone, to take care of mom, I expect you to do it, to put her first. Do, you have a problem with that?? If so, don't take the money....

Robin Williamson

Hey guys virus are endemic meaning every where all the time. Every human walks around with staph and strep and common cold on them every day also. Our death rate is comparable to Sweden who did not bother to ruin their economy, education system and society over it. To expect politicians to be able to fix this reality is absurd they are people not gods. It is not in their control and to expect it, is riduculous. Pandemics come and go. Have for millenia. Nothing we do will stop that. Blaming politicians is no smarter than politicians believing they can do anything. Check out the latest science news covid alone is not the issue. It and other things can trigger an autoimmune response in our bodies with an thing called cytokines, which our bodies create as an immune response. If we create too many kinds it sets off a cell death cascade and our own immune system kills us. The kicker is this can happen without a viral trigger. Research is showing that autoimmune disease drugs, already in use, designed to inhibit cytokine production is effective at keeping it a nyquil night instead of a hospital night when you get covid. Corona virus do not give lifetime immunity when you survive having them. (This is #19 in that virus family, at least 18 other types one of which is common cold and flu is also in that family.) That is why flu shot every year, no permanent immunity so no permanent vaccine like mmr or small pox which do offer permanent immunity. Vaccines works on some diseases and some it never will. Vaccines is one tool in the box not a magic wand for every ailment.

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