More than 70 percent of New Mexicans 75 and older who have registered for a coronavirus vaccination have received at least one shot, the state Department of Health reported this week.

The Health Department has created a new online public “dashboard” with updated numbers of people who have registered for the vaccine in each phase of the state’s distribution effort, as well as the status of inoculations in each group.

Three months into the vaccine distribution effort, many seniors who haven’t received a shot say they still don’t know where they stand in the rollout. They have complained about fuzzy communication from the state as they await their chance to be inoculated against a deadly virus that poses higher risks for older people.

“The only communication I want to hear from the Department of Health is that I’ve got a vaccination appointment,” said 69-year-old Pam Nation, who has diabetes and high blood pressure.

Matt Bieber, a spokesman for the Health Department, said the state wants to provide clarity.

“It is extraordinarily complex logistically,” Bieber said. “There are a lot of curve balls and complexities to this.”

Among other information, the new online dashboard indicates:

  • 72 percent of close to 100,000 registrants 75 and older have received at least one shot and about 2,900 more are scheduled for their first shot.
  • 80 percent of about 79,000 health care workers who have registered have received at least one shot and about 2,400 are now scheduled for their first.
  • 77 percent of educators who have registered have received at least their first shot, with about 3,300 more scheduled for their first.

On a separate site, the Health Department reports providers’ daily progress in rolling out the vaccine — which has gained momentum in the past couple of weeks. On Thursday, the data showed more than 1.13 million doses had been delivered to New Mexico, and providers had administered nearly 950,000 of them.

Those numbers were a combination of doses the federal government has shipped to both state and federal agencies. They show 35.4 percent of residents in New Mexico have received at least one shot and 20.8 percent are fully vaccinated.

Many more residents have received shots out of state.

New Mexicans have gone to Texas or Colorado for their vaccinations, but the state doesn’t know how many. It has asked those who have done this to inform the state so they can be taken off the registry. Bieber said some out-of-staters, perhaps 5,000, have come to New Mexico for their vaccinations.



Bieber stressed that supply and demand drives the pace of vaccinations. The state could administer far more shots now if it had more doses.

“Some of it is just out of our hands,” he said. “We don’t have enough vaccine yet. … America’s doing something that it’s really never done.”

Acquiring precise details on coronavirus vaccination progress in New Mexico is difficult because of the nuances of the process. For instance, the majority of people are tracked by the state’s coronavirus vaccine registry system. But some medical providers, approved by the state, don’t use that registry and work strictly through the New Mexico Statewide Immunization Information System.

Further, the federal government runs its own vaccine program with Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Services, the Defense Department and prisons. Bieber said the state doesn’t have phase-based distribution data for most of the doses administered to those people.

He said there have been some vaccinations outside the highest-priority groups of health care workers, nursing home staff and residents, New Mexicans 75 and older, teachers and people with underlying medical conditions.

The state recently told medical providers they would face a $5,000 fine for vaccinating people who haven’t been prioritized. Bieber estimated 30,000 have gone out of phase.

But many of those vaccinations have been given because medical providers must distribute all of their vaccine by the day’s end — the vaccines have a short shelf life. Distributing the remaining doses by calling people within the area is OK, he said, although they should still be within a prioritized group.

One “trade group” evidently told its members to register as though from another profession so they could qualify for shots sooner, he said. “It’s pretty rare when you see a case like that.”

He said medical providers “are working very hard to comply with the phase system” and that the state has procedures that require them to document vaccinations given outside the appropriate phases.

New Mexico is a vast state to serve, Bieber said, and it’s difficult to ship and store vaccine over great distances. Nevertheless, he said, New Mexico has outperformed other states.

“We understand that folks are eager to get vaccinated,” Bieber said. “We’re going to get to them absolutely as quickly as we can.”

(28) comments

Betsy Brandt

There is an important point missing in this article. A BIG thank you to Amarillo, Texas for vaccinating so many of us! So many I know over 60 have gone to Amarillo for the vaccine. Must be thousands by now. We were asked to and have updated our vaccine record with dates on DOH website. So the DOH updated vaccination numbers include those received in Texas. DOH is getting credit for them. After all we don't want anyone to miss out on a vaccine and we DO want NM records to reflect that we have been vaccinated!

We have not been taken off the registry as quoted in this article-- "New Mexicans have gone to Texas or Colorado for their vaccinations, but the state doesn’t know how many. It has asked those who have done this to inform the state so they can be taken off the registry. "

I applaud any improved communication by DOH. What I don't applaud is trying to make the system more complicated than it is. Thankfully more and more vaccines are arriving, let's get all seniors vaccinated pronto!

Lee DiFiore

So let's see, we're 3 months into the vaccination program and more than 25% of seniors over 75 have yet to receive their first shot. Wonder what that number would be if we took it down to 65 where almost the entire country is. Wonder what the percentage is for politicians, their families, friends and other "connected" folks. Wanna bet it's higher than 72%? And how many more seniors have to die waiting? SHAME!

James Taylor

I would like to see another column in any future communications:

Number of registrants in each category who have received an appointment offer from NMDOH

Perhaps that would shed some light on how the selection process is really working.

Chris Mechels

Bieber: "The state recently told medical providers they would face a $5,000 fine for vaccinating people who haven’t been prioritized. Bieber estimated 30,000 have gone out of phase."

What an absolute "chucklehead", putting out noise which simply confuses.

Threatening providers, who are trying to comply with DOH guidance which isn't consistent even on the same page of their website, with a $5,000 fine, is clearly just posturing. They can't comply with "guidance" that changes at the whim of the Governor, best to ignore it. At worst some providers may decide to avoid the "risk" and make the problem worse.

The "clarity" provided by Bieber simply makes things even more confusing. What a clown act at DOH, run by the head clown, Michelle.

DANIEL GOWE

Getting a vaccine shot or getting some pot in NM vs. CO. Well, if you want some, just cross the border!

Chris Mechels

For this exhibit of obfuscation, Mr. Bieber is payed $88,000 per year, of OUR money. Now THAT's offensive.

Anita Salazar

I believe we are doing well in our state in terms of total numbers but I do not believe we are serving our elderly and medically vulnerable. I also have heard first hand of several who have gotten vaccinated out of their grouping. Colorado is now vaccinating 60 and above— efficiently, with very little wait for an appointment. A friend’s elderly mother on oxygen was vaccinated last week. Why did she have to wait so long?

Mike Johnson

Mr Bieber is the primary problem here. He couldn't communicate if his life depended on it, unfortunately so many seniors lives do and he still obfuscates and refuses to explain the process, since it is sooooo "complex"......right?

Bob Res

So hear’s the question.....given the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations have an efficacy rate of about 87% after one shot, and around 95% after Two shots, why don’t they try to get at least one shot into everyone?

Just do mass vaccinations at several locations and skip all the bureaucratic levels. If they had, the state of NM would have over 45% of its population vaccinated at an 87% efficacy rate as of today.

——Bob

Mark Ortiz

That would require competency and will.

Mike Johnson

Indeed, and competency, education, and experience are where NM is the poorest of all states. The only "will" that exists is prolonging the shutdowns and lockdowns to satisfy politicians and bureaucrats lust for power and control.

Bob Res

I applaud the start of serious information starting to be shared with your citizens. It would be nice if they eventually get to the point where the total vaccinations administered by the state match the total vaccinations reported on the CDC website (after all, the CDC gets the “vaccinated” data from the state!)

—— Bob

Barry Rabkin

And the answer is: because the CDC recommends 2 shots, particularly to increase the odds of helping protection against the variants. Thankfully, you exist so there is no need for the CDC.

Bob Res

Nice, thoughtless, smarmy comment so it’s clear you didn’t want to think through the question (and it IS a valid question).

The 87% and the 95% come from the CDC, and each state is sovereign, so each state COULD make the decision to cycle through the entire population with one shot then go through again for the second.

I will repeat....wouldn’t it be nice to have half your state 85% protected as of last night?

—— Bob

Barry Rabkin

It would be nice if each of us were multi-millionaires. But no, to answer your question: it is better that people get the full vaccination of both shots to protect against the COVID-19 variants. And Dr. Fauci continually recommends this path of 2 shots. I am beyond thankful you don't run the vaccination program.

Susan Williams

Ironically, after I commented on a report in the New Mexican earlier this week, criticizing the DOH for lack of clarity and for ignoring those in the 65-74 age group, I got a notice from the DOH the very next day, offering me a code for a vaccine. Coincidence? Maybe not. Squeaky wheels get action (sometimes). However, I had already easily scheduled a second shot with Walmart in Alamosa, CO, which I received yesterday. The DOH is driving vulnerable seniors out of state for vaccinations, in favor of . . . whom???

Mark Ortiz

Excuses excuses excuses and PR BS spin. To say we are doing better than other states helps with this problem how Mr. Bieber? I tell my Biden loving Trump hating friends and family that Trump lowered the bar so low, Biden farts and they say well at least they smell better Trumps. I talked to someone at DOH and got the real story about how this cluster F of a distribution effort is happening, and it's not good. I will give those running the show this, I don't know how hard it is for them to acquire the vaccine. I do also feel, that this late in the distribution game, that they are barely stepping up efforts to clarify status, provide numbers, and admit they are falling short, is not a good look to go along with the Governor's huge raises for her staff in the middle of a pandemic and her extravagant and hypocritical discretionary spending. Lastly, Do I think Governor Lujan Grisham is doing a far better job than Pizza Party Martinez, easily, but again, Susana set a REALLY low bar and sadly, this is New Mexico. Full disclosure, I voted for Martinez the 1st time because I was sick of Richardson's arrogance and thought Diane Dennish would do more of the same. I would happily take that vote back, and in the last primary, I was for Cervantes.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Mike Johnson

Oh, and you do realize Lady Di was one of the first in NM to get vaccinated, as she admitted on these comment pages on Jan.14, she got a leaked link sent to VIPs to get an appointment, she is 72: "I am one of those who got the link forwarded from an individual. Even though I was pre-registered on the DOH site like many others, I am anxious to get the vaccination so decided to try it. It was user friendly and worked well. I secured an appointment and am glad to hear Presbyterian will honor the appointment when it comes time."

Peter Mostachetti

In any process - there are going to be those who are pleased...and those who are not. My experience here in NM is SPECTACULAR compared to my friends back in NY. The registration was easy. The communication has been good. I didn't have to drive 5+ hours or search for an available appointment. And I already got my second appointment (automatically booked). The automations have been fantastic. Could they be more transparent about the behind the scenes process... Yes. That is also a common problem, and complaint when dealing with any automations, or AI systems.

Barry Rabkin

I agree with you, Peter, 100%.

Lee Vigil

New Mexico's doing a great job!

Lee DiFiore

If NM is doing such a great job, why are so many residents going out of state to get the vaccine?

Peter Mostachetti

From a numbers perspective - we ARE doing a great job. We are the second highest state when you look at the percentage of the population (only Alaska is ahead of us).

Lee Vigil

Impatience. It's a huge logistical undertaking. New Mexico's doing an amazing job compared with just about every other state. I get it, everyone want the vaccination NOW, but I imagine citizens in poorer performing states are feeling a lot less optimistic and will be waiting much longer than New Mexicans will. More than 1 in 5 New Mexicans have been vaccinated. I say that's incredible!

DANIEL GOWE

That's what I'm talking about!

Barry Rabkin

The people going out of State to get their vaccination shots refuse to wait their turn. Impatient, instant gratification people.

DANIEL GOWE

So until thin....If your in the phase 1C group, it's best to make a run for the border.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.