Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham touted New Mexico’s vaccination efforts during a virtual discussion with President Joe Biden on Tuesday, saying the state will exceed the president’s goal of getting at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of 70 percent of adults by July 4.
New Mexico is already well on its way.
More than 1 million New Mexicans, or 60 percent of eligible residents, already have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly half of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health.
“We were leading, and now all of these fantastic governors and so many more are chasing us or eclipsing us,” said Lujan Grisham, one of six governors who participated in the virtual chat with the president. “This positive ... approach to getting every American vaccinated is making a difference.”
The governor’s comments focused on what she called “equity-driven vaccine access.”
Lujan Grisham told Biden, who considered the governor for a Cabinet position, that 95 percent of adults are fully vaccinated in some of the state’s sovereign Native American nations.
“It’s been a very effective partnership with sovereign nations, Indian Health Service of the federal government and your COVID team under your leadership,” Lujan Grisham said. “It’s made a remarkable difference because they were being hit hard.”
Lujan Grisham noted New Mexico had the nation’s first registration system, which she said contributed to the state’s ability to ensure vaccination efforts were “equity-focused and equity-driven.”
“That data then allowed us to see whether or not we were getting minority populations, whether we were getting to rural and frontier areas in the state,” she said.
With more than half of the state’s population on Medicaid — a fact that seemed to surprise Biden — Lujan Grisham said the state tapped into that data.
“I can tell every primary care physician who in their patient population is yet to be vaccinated and push those vaccines into those doctor’s offices by utilizing Medicaid information,” she said. “It’s that same utilization data that tells me who’s on hospice, who’s homebound [and] who’s got a disability so that we can continue to make sure that we close the gap, every single day, in terms of New Mexicans who are yet to be vaccinated.”
The governors of Maine, Ohio, Utah, Minnesota and Massachusetts, both Democrats and Republicans, also spoke about their state’s vaccination efforts, which range from mobile and pop-up clinics and free transportation to offering incentives, such as tickets to a baseball game and free fishing and hunting licenses.
“We are committed, Mr. President, to all of us continuing this collaboration,” said Lujan Grisham, the last governor to speak during the discussion.
“I heard about hunting and fishing licenses — I’m on it,” she added. “So every time somebody has a good idea, we’re deploying it.”