The state Department of Health hopes to make it easier for many working people to get their coronavirus shots by allowing those 40 and older to schedule their own vaccination appointments.
Some New Mexicans have expressed a desire to schedule shots for when and where they can get to an appointment conveniently, and the state has responded, Health Department spokesman David Morgan said Monday.
“The goal remains to get everybody in New Mexico who wants to be vaccinated, vaccinated as soon as possible,” Morgan said.
Making it easier for people to get vaccinated helps the state add to its totals and diminish the risk of the virus continuing to spread.
An administrator at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center said now is not the time to reduce vigilance in combating COVID-19.
“Different states are seeing some increases” in cases, said Hope Wade, chief operating officer at the hospital.
Numbers of cases in the state have bounced up and down in recent days. The seven-day average dropped Friday, the most recent day statistics were available, to 148 from 183. An uptick to 217 occurred April 12, up from 177 a week before.
Morgan said small increases over short durations are less concerning as the numbers overall trend toward a decline.
The seven-day average Nov. 22 was a whopping 2,101.
“We monitor the day-to-day numbers very closely,” Morgan said.
The move to allow vaccination self-scheduling for more people is “the next step to being able to open up registration for everyone to be able to set up their own appointments,” he added.
Statewide, more than 38 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated. New Mexico is second to Maine for the highest percentage in that category, according to a data-tracking system by the Wall Street Journal and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New Mexico has slipped to fifth in the country for those who have had at least one shot.
The state says 56.4 percent of eligible residents are in that category. Jasmin Milz Holmstrup, a spokeswoman for La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe, said the vaccine supply is holding up well for her clinics. “We are not having any issues whatsoever,” she said.
La Familia clinics had vaccinated 2,360 patients as of last week.
Wade said her hospital has administered 30,920 vaccinations, including second shots. At larger clinics on April 9, 15 and 16, the number of recipients failed to meet supply, she said, but the hospital was able to use leftover vaccine at another clinic.
Those 40 and older may log into vaccinenm.org using their confirmation code and date of birth, choose their location and select from available appointments.
Event codes for New Mexicans 40 and older are no longer required, but they are needed for younger populations.
Providing New Mexicans “as much flexibility as possible in scheduling their vaccine appointments” is the goal, said Dr. Tracie Collins, the state’s health secretary. “And in the coming weeks, we intend to offer self-scheduling for all New Mexicans 16 years and older.”
Those who don’t immediately find an appointment should check back.
Vaccination numbers have improved somewhat in Torrance County, where about six weeks ago they seemed discouraging. In March, about 25 percent of the county’s residents had received at least one shot. Torrance County remains on the low end in the state, with about 30 percent having gotten a first shot, but the county is in the state’s preferred turquoise level, which indicates residents are at low risk of getting the virus.
Torrance County Emergency Manager Matt Propp said self-scheduling of vaccinations should assist in the matter.
“We’ve got the interest,” Propp said. “I think people are just waiting for the opportunity to get out there and get vaccinated.”