All New Mexicans 16 and older may now obtain coronavirus vaccinations — the final group to be invited to the party.
The state Department of Health announced Monday the time had come to open the process to that group, in what it is calling Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout.
The department nevertheless will continue to prioritize vaccinations for New Mexicans 75 and older, and those 60 and older with a chronic health problem.
Young people and others who weren’t in the first few groups the state prioritized to receive the vaccine sounded willing and even eager to get the shots.
“I feel confident in it, and I trust the science behind it,” Santa Fe High School senior Amber Lujan said Monday.
Lujan said she learned in a biology class last year how vaccines work, and it helped her recognize the importance of being vaccinated.
Those younger than 16 still aren’t eligible for vaccination. The announcement the final group could begin to get the shots reflected New Mexico’s progress in administering the vaccines to 1.68 million eligible residents.
The department reported Monday nearly 48 percent have received at least one vaccination.
Further, the state Aging and Long-Term Services Department said Monday that all nursing homes and assisted living facilities had hosted three COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Dr. Tracie Collins, cabinet secretary for the Department of Health, said in a news release New Mexico will hit President Joe Biden’s mandate to make vaccine available to all adults by May 1 “nearly a month early.”
The state also has said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated greater amounts of vaccine are becoming available.
Hope Wade, chief operating officer at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, wrote in an email that she was confident the number of doses would be sufficient.
“We will have enough vaccine for the number of spots we have open for each clinic,” Wade said. “Demand is still stronger than supply — but we’re making progress each day. Supply volumes have increased in the last couple weeks, which is why we’re now able to plan these mass vaccine clinics over the next few weeks.”
Ian Widrick-Martinez, who will soon graduate with a criminal justice degree from Santa Fe Community College, said he, too, looked forward to getting the shots.
“We weren’t sure when our time might come,” Widrick-Martinez said. “I’m willing to do my part.”
He said he hears skepticism from some students and acquaintances and encourages those people to read about the vaccines.
“We can’t change everyone’s viewpoints,” he said. “The best that we can do is do our part.”
One Santa Fe Community College student, who is 52, said he didn’t know if he was previously eligible to get the vaccination.
It didn’t matter anyway, because he said he won’t receive one.
The man, Anthony Martinez, said his father had suffered a serious illness some time ago called Guillain-Barré syndrome and a doctor had offered a “best guess” that it came from a vaccination.
Martinez said he has found the vaccine rollout chaotic and that he has heard various opinions on the vaccines’ efficacy.
“But I’ve never been a big fan of even the flu shot,” he said. He said he does believe in wearing masks, diligent hand-washing and physical distancing.
High school students seemed amenable to getting the vaccinations. Isaac Gonzales, a Capital High School senior, said, “I will take mine whenever. I didn’t want to take it [last week] because it’s the last week of the football season. If I had any side effects, I didn’t want to miss the game because of the side effects. Any time after that, I’m happy to take it.’’
Maya Ellers, a Santa Fe High School senior, said she is registered and ready.
“I’m just waiting for the appointment to open up,” Ellers said.