As pleas for people to get vaccinated continue to grow louder, a review of vaccination rates by ZIP code shows pockets of resistance in several of Santa Fe County’s smaller, more rural communities.

Convincing residents in these communities to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated has become increasingly difficult despite cash incentives, health officials said.

“[Outreach specialists] are going out and talking to individuals where some have their minds made up, and sometimes their reactions have been a little hostile if their minds have been made up,” said Jasmin Milz Holmstrup, chief development officer with La Familia Medical Center, which has worked closely on vaccine outreach with the state Department of Health, as well as Santa Fe and Santa Fe County.

According to data provided by the New Mexico Department of Health, all but two ZIP codes in Santa Fe County had vaccination rates around 70 percent as of Aug. 25. The ZIP codes with lower inoculation rates were 87015 and 87056, which include the communities of Edgewood and Stanley, respectively.

In the 87015 ZIP code, 58 percent of people were vaccinated, while in 87056, 37 percent were fully vaccinated, the lowest vaccination rate in the county.

Edgewood has about 6,000 people, while Stanley has just under 1,000 residents.

The rates are outliers compared to the rest of Santa Fe County, where nearly 80 percent of residents over 12 are fully vaccinated. Statewide, 69.5 percent of residents were inoculated as of Friday.

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Pharmacist Marie Gonzalez prepares doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered last month at Santa Fe High School.

Martin Vigil, emergency preparedness coordinator for Santa Fe County, said the lower-than-hoped-for vaccination rates in Edgewood and Stanley have led to revamped vaccination efforts in those areas.

“The reason we have targeted Stanley and Edgewood are obviously because of the numbers down there,” Vigil said. “Even one [vaccination] in our team’s mind is very successful.”

Vigil said the county has operated a mobile vaccination unit since vaccines became readily available for targeted clinics, first partnering with the grocery store chain Albertsons and then with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the past three months.

Vaccinations at clinics are starting to ramp up again, and the county intends to return to Edgewood and Stanley sometime this month for more vaccination events, Vigil said.

Vigil said he doesn’t believe the rates are tied to vaccination access issues. Since the start of the pandemic, the county has held 37 such clinics, including 27 since June when COVID-19 rates started to rebound.

By Aug. 25, ZIP codes encompassing Cerrillos in the southern area of the county and Santa Cruz to the north, which have comparable populations to Stanley, had 71 percent and nearly 100 percent vaccination rates, respectively.

“I think it’s just a population that has chosen not to get vaccinated,” Vigil said.

Milz Holmstrup mostly agreed with Vigil. She said access issues and language barriers could impact vaccination rates, as well as a general apprehension toward the shot.

“I will be very upfront and say right now I think, really, we are down to people for good or for bad who have their minds made up, and they are very difficult to get them to change their minds,” Milz Holmstrup said. “I know our providers are still getting questions [from] patients. There are still a few holdouts; this is very divisive. This has divided the nation.”

At a recent news conference featuring some of the state’s largest hospitals, health care providers implored New Mexicans to get the vaccine. And President Joe Biden has announced a vaccine mandate for federal employees, health care workers and workers at companies with more than 100 employees.

Lealia Nelson, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, wrote in an email the department intends to work more closely with community-based organizations to conduct outreach in smaller, rural communities.

It’s similar to an approach used by Rio Arriba County Emergency Management Coordinator Alfredo Montoya, whose county is also dealing with smaller, often rural, pockets of unvaccinated people.

Rio Arriba County has seen participation in its vaccination drives fall off in recent months, Montoya said.

While Rio Arriba County’s vaccination rate of around 80 percent is nearly identical to Santa Fe County’s, Montoya said health care professionals are hoping to target a few remaining problem areas. He said those efforts will likely progress at a steady pace.

In Española, Rio Arriba County’s largest community, vaccination rates have increased from 41 percent to 59 percent from May 18 to Aug. 25, according to data highlighting the 87532 and 87533 ZIP codes. ZIP codes that hold some of the county’s smaller, more rural communities have only seen vaccination rates increase from about 35 percent or 40 percent to about 55 percent over the same time.

Still, those rates are better than the 87537 ZIP code, where just 20 percent of almost 3,000 people are fully vaccinated, compared to just 13 percent as of May 18. The 87537 area includes the community of Hernández.

Montoya said if more booster shots become a necessity, it could put a strain on targeted vaccination efforts for those who want their initial shot.

“It’s going to be [a] juggling act to make sure we still stay focused for people who are still getting their first shot,” he said.

Montoya implored residents to get the vaccine.

“I think that the science supports people getting vaccinated,” he said. “No, it does not prevent COVID 100 percent, but I think what we need to focus on is keeping things at a manageable level.”

One local community that has certainly heeded the call in large numbers has been Santa Fe, where 75 percent of residents over 12 are vaccinated across the city’s five ZIP codes.

The 87507 and 87508 ZIP codes, which primarily include residents on the south side of Santa Fe, have the two lowest vaccination rates in the city, 68.8 percent and 72 percent as of Aug. 25.

Kyra Ochoa, director of the city’s Community Health and Safety Department, said she expects rates to increase as more employees comply with the city’s mandate requiring regular proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination, as well as a push to get more school-aged children vaccinated.

Ochoa said Santa “should be proud” it hasn’t experienced a large disparity in vaccination rates across the city.

City officials have focused on helping residents who might have access issues, especially on the south side, since vaccine rollouts began.

La Familia was an important partner in that strategy. About 55 percent of the center’s patients, about 10,000 out of about 16,000 patients, reside in the 87507 ZIP code. Milz Holmstrup said 93 percent of those people have been fully vaccinated.

Like the county, the city has also held a series of vaccination events.

“Really, the key was understanding what barriers folks have and how to [get the] word out in the community,” Ochoa said. “How do we get the vaccines out in a way that is easiest to access? How do we address their concerns? It’s important.”

(31) comments

Tom Hyland

VAERS exists for a good reason and for many years now. This is the truth regarding the official record of injury and death caused by vaccines. https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/vaers-cdc-covid-deaths-vaccine-injuries/

Richard Irell

Yes, it exists for a good reason. Unfortunately, you don’t understand it’s uses and limitations.

Key considerations and limitations of VAERS data:

Vaccine providers are encouraged to report any clinically significant health problem following vaccination to VAERS, whether or not they believe the vaccine was the cause.

Reports may include incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental and unverified information.

The number of reports alone cannot be interpreted or used to reach conclusions about the existence, severity, frequency, or rates of problems associated with vaccines.

VAERS data is limited to vaccine adverse event reports received between 1990 and the most recent date for which data are available.

VAERS data do not represent all known safety information for a vaccine and should be interpreted in the context of other scientific information.

Tom Hyland

Because all I ever see is mostly a group of people who are totally pro-vaccine commenting below these stories, I am convinced only a very small group of people are even reading this stuff. It is always the same names repeatably voicing the same pro-vaccine agenda, and insulting anyone who dares speak otherwise. This is very predictable and quite boring. There is a desperation to their panic. These familiar names are always calling for my expulsion from the comments section. They cannot tolerate an opposing view. They display a brittleness that is truly deplorable. I am of a small minority that finds the vaccines dubious and deserving of suspicion. This article has a headline declaring that many people are still hesitant to receive the shots. That IS a reality and why is that? Look at the facial expression of young Marcus Romera and contemplate why he is so miserable. Maybe he knows something the commenters here do not know. I would appreciate a report from the Santa Fe New Mexican in which they reveal how many people actually read the comments here. I bet it's a minuscule gathering. The following link presents an opposing view of the vaccines and if even one person reads this it will be worthwhile. People ARE making their own decisions in spite of the corporate/government drumbeat and are seeking and finding alternative information. https://tinyurl.com/art8uj57

Richard Irell

In reply to the misinformation (AKA lies) spread by Tom Hyland.

VAERS is a self reporting system. Anyone can submit a claim of adverse effects online. It would hardly be surprising if a lot of reports are from people who have not been vaccinated.

Let's talk numbers, with which Hyland has only a passing acquaintance.

180 million Americans have been vaccinated, well over 300 million individual doses.

The US mortality rate is 870 per 100,000 population per year. So we would expect 1.5 million of the vaccinated US population to die in a year. Reported deaths? 13,627! Pretty trivial in comparison.

What is the mortality rate of COVID-19? 100 per 100,000 worldwide, double that in the US. Even if we accept that all 13, 627 reported deaths in VAERS are in fact due to COVID-19, which would be absurd, we would have a vaccine mortality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 vaccinated individuals. Compare that to the mortality rate of 200 per 100,000 COVID-19 cases and you have a 26:1 advantage.

Tom Hyland

13,627 deaths directly caused by these vaccines. Trivial? The swine flu vaccine was halted when about 50 deaths had occurred. Get vaccinated often, Robert, if you think this is trivial.

Richard Irell

Repeating lies. 13,627 deaths were reported to VAERS. That does not mean that 13,627 deaths were caused by the vaccines. 13,627 deaths IS trivial compared to the expected 1.5 million deaths that would occur with or without vaccines in a population of 180 million. That’s 0.76%.

And the swine flu vaccination ended not because of the 53 deaths attributed to the vaccine, but due to the fact that the disease did not spread beyond Fort Dix.

Tom Hyland

All you've got are insults when a reply pokes your belief bubble, Richard. Your fear and desperation is obvious. The vaccines are NOT working and have been a gross failure. People have been bribed with hamburgers, pizzas and even lottery tickets to get vaccinated... only more desperation... but there's finally a vast population who isn't buying the program. What next? Round them up at gunpoint and jab them? The vaccines and your belief system have failed. Don't read this... but someone else will.

https://tinyurl.com/xxa4f7px

Tom Hyland

The echo chamber of voices proclaiming the wonders of vaccination is all that will be tolerated at this newspaper. Any words of opposition will be censored. The employees of the Santa Fe New Mexican are performing as opinionated activists, not objective reporters of news. Nor will these employees allow an opinion from a reader that is contrary to their biased agenda. This only makes your publication appear brittle and incapable of allowing freedom of speech.

Richard Irell

No reason for the SFNM to provide an echo chamber for your ignorance and/or lies.

Ramon David

Personal physicians (someone known by their patients and more likely to be trusted) should be reimbursed for calling their patients and educating them on why they should get the vaccine. It also needs to be easier for them to give the vaccine in their office:

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/2021/jul/room-where-it-happens

Mike Johnson

Agreed, people you trust and respect are the ones to communicate these things. Much more effective than partisan politicians like MLG, her minions, and Robert Fields.......[lol]

Comment deleted.
Robert Fields

Tom, you are misusing the VAERS data.

VAERS is a database of adverse events that may or may not have anything to do with actual vaccine side effects. Its purpose is to discover actual adverse reactions. It’s a wide net.

It is not an actual list of vaccine side effects. Researchers go through that list and look at the death reports to determine what actually are and what actually are not vaccine side effects.

The reason the fringe right even knows about VAERS is because the whole CDC process is public and transparent.

But VAERS is not a database of covid side effects. If you want that list with its probabilities, look here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html

That is a detailing of actual side effects and death rates. I say it again, quoting VAERS to try to say there are problems with the vaccines is bogus, wrong, misleading, and dangerous.

Mike Johnson

Well, there you go, all these people must be Trumpites to be resisting vaccinations. And I thought Santa Fe Co. was overwhelmingly left wing Democrats, who knew?

John Cook

There are plenty of folks just like you in Santa Fe County. The minority are, indeed, Trumpites resisting the vaccine.

Tom Hyland

Blaming Trump for every malady that has befallen the world makes you look extremely uninformed, Mike. Every President I can remember has been in obedient lockstep with the dictates of banks and corporations. That is whom they serve. Trump is still on the stump endorsing vaccines in case you haven't noticed. The city of Santa Fe is most definitely left-wing Democrat but the County is probably mostly Republican. However, it's a see-saw you're riding if you think there's a difference between the two parties. Every politician does the exact same thing. What side are you on, Mike? Are you up or down? Are you winning?

Robert Fields

Please get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe. The anti-vax crowd will quote data improperly to convice others not to get the vaccine, but this is your life, your family’s lives, and the health of your communities.

Look at all the well-known and not so well-known anti-vaxxers who are now dead and tried to convince others to get the shots. It’s turning into quite a long list of anti-vax dead now.

Anyone still not vaccinated needs to know that unvaccinated, or single shot (out of two for Moderna or Pfizer), or those fully vaccinated but not out of the two week cook time, are the vast majority of those dead and dying from covid. They are about 98% of the covid cases in hospitals.

Anyone refusing to vaccinate is betting their life on bad information. All the anti-vax disinformation is being pushed by uneducated, non-professional people. They aren’t qualified. Tucker Carlson never graduated from college. Posters here quoting VAERS as proof of the dangers of vaccination are misusing the data and misleading others.

It’s your, your family’s, and your communities lives. Take the time to at least review all the cases of people like yourselves who also refused the vaccines and are now dead after trying to convince everyone to get it. Radio and TV hosts, bloggers, mothers, fathers, their children. Dead and they died regretting their decisions.

Get vaccinated. It could easily save your life.

Mike Johnson

Wow! Such an impassioned plea, you should go to work for MLG, she could use one like you, since she and her minions are incapable and incompetent at such things as convincing people to do anything......

Carolyn DM

"Wow!"!! Yet she's done a great job of keep our numbers down and our state reasonably safe. Who in the he!! would see fit to give you an honorary, yet apparently bogus, "Dr." title to put in front of your name?

Robert Fields

Maybe diplomamakers.com?

Robert Fields

But Mike, even with MLG derangement syndrome, you have to be able to understand our overall covid death toll is still pretty good. New Mexico is still less than 5,000 dead. Florida and Ron DeSantis have almost killed (51,240) the equivalent of a Vietnam War’s worth of American dead, while Texas and Greg Abbott have already killed more Texans (62,323) than US Vietnam War dead (55,220).

I keep having to caution you about using data properly (because you don’t), so please let me explain the trickery in those numbers. Those are over the whole pandemic, before and after vaccines, and aren’t normalized for population. We should look at recent covid death rates and normalize for population, no? Becker Hospital Review already has and with a 3 hour old update as I write this (even though the URL has July 1 in it):

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/us-coronavirus-deaths-by-state-july-1.html

Florida is at the top spot with 1.64 deaths per 100,000 population. Then comes Alabama, Mississippi, Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, and then Texas at 0.97 deaths per 100,000. Where is New Mexico? 15 states farther down at 24th with 0.48 deaths per 100,000 population.

New Mexico is seeing less than half the death on a per capita basis than all the states down to Texas in that list - and that’s even with some significant chunks of the state uncooperative.

The simple fact is that mask, distancing, and vaccination advisories and mandates the MLG’s administration has been implementing - even with all the fringe right resistance - is keeping New Mexicans safe.

And about those recent covid deaths in New Mexico - that’s mostly the anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and anti-distancers doing it to themselves and their families. Most who are dying are by far the unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated. Fully vaccinated are also dying but they tend to have co-morbidities though not always, or are still in the time where vaccine protection develops. The take home is getting shots when you think you might be sick may not be able to help you.

But make no mistake, MLG’s policies are helping to keep anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers alive since our death rate is still below what it could be if you guys had your way. Somehow I just don’t see you thanking her, though.

John Cook

And yet she pretty easily convinced you to get the vaccine.

Mike Johnson

I would never listen to her or any politician about my health. As a Ph.D. physical scientist I am capable of looking at the scientific data, interpreting it, and making my own choice based on the science, not some &&$%% politician . And no, I did not, nor would I ever vote for Trump, and I wouldn't believe him any more than MLG. Politicians are idiots, and those they appoint are as well, as politics is not about facts or science. And all this sanctimonious preaching and lectures by all you left wingers will not convince people who do not trust government or politicians. If that were all I had to go on, I wouldn't listen either. You should also note there are a sizable % of the population that think "public health" is an oxymoron, and believe their personal health is their responsibility, not governments's, something I also sympathize with.......[lol]

JB Weinberg

I agree with you, Mr. Fields, but don't waste your time here, Mr. Fields. Just report the misinformation being posted to The New Mexican and be done with it. You'll not change any minds reading the discussions

Robert Fields

I appreciate the sentiment, JB, but it’s my time to spend as I see fit. I’ve tried reporting posts but SFNM frequently leaves them up as long as there are no tos violations.

JB Weinberg

Well, of course it is. Just trying to give you the benefit of my own experience.

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