Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham received her first dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine March 26 at a state Department of Health vaccination site in Santa Fe.
As the supply of shots from the federal government increases, the state expanded eligibility to reach more New Mexicans who have registered and are awaiting a vaccine — and teens yet to register.
Lujan Grisham, 61, joins 49 percent of New Mexicans aged 60 to 74 who have received at least one shot from the state, according to Department of Health data as of March 25.
As of that day New Mexico had administered almost 1.1 million doses and remained among the nation’s leaders in per-capita vaccine distribution. Forty percent of New Mexicans as of Thursday had received at least one shot, and 24.2 percent were fully vaccinated.
“I know many elected leaders, including governors, have gotten their shots before now,” Lujan Grisham said, “but it was important to me to wait until it was my turn in the priority list — just like we have asked so many New Mexicans to wait their turn, and to be patient, to trust the process is moving as quickly as it can, and to keep wearing our masks and physically distancing to protect each other and our families.”

Easier for the elderly
The DOH announced March 29 that New Mexicans 75 years and older registered at vaccineNM.org no longer need event codes to schedule vaccine appointments.
Instead, they will receive invitations to schedule appointments. Then, they can log into vaccineNM.org with their confirmation code and birth date, and pick an appointment at a convenient time and location.
“We expect this change to make it easier for all remaining seniors to get their shots,” said DOH Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins.
As of March 28, 70.1 percent of New Mexicans 75 and older have received at least a first dose; 57 percent are fully vaccinated.
Two call centers register, problem-solve and schedule vaccines for New Mexicans who need support. Dial 1-855-600-3453, press option 0 for vaccine questions, and then option 4 for tech support.

Shots extended to 16 and older
The DOH on March 31 announced that beginning Monday, all New Mexicans age 16 and older will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
“President Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1. New Mexico will meet that mark nearly a month early,” Collins said.
DOH will still prioritize vaccines for Phase 1A, New Mexicans 75 years and older, and New Mexicans 60 years and older with a chronic condition. Providers in some parts of the state can no longer fill appointments in other phases.
In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated states should expect meaningful increases in vaccine supply over the coming weeks.

CVS begins vaccinations
CVS Health announced it began vaccinating eligible populations March 31 at five CVS Pharmacies in New Mexico, including Rio Rancho.
Patients must register in advance at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app, and people without online access can contact CVS customer service at (800) 746-7287. Vaccinations will not be provided without an appointment.

Schedule booster shots
The DOH announced last week that New Mexicans registered at vaccineNM.org can self-schedule booster doses. Users who have received a first dose — within the vaccineNM.org system or elsewhere — can log in, choose their location and select from booster appointments available.
DOH also announced a new website, vaccineNM.org/facts, to addresses frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, including eligibility, registration and health-related topics.

Learn if you’ve been exposed
The DOH launched a free, statewide COVID-19 exposure notification system last month. It’s a voluntary service available to all New Mexicans on iPhone and Android.
NM Notify does not collect, store or transmit personal information, or track movement, according to the DOH. It uses your phone’s Bluetooth function to monitor proximity between phones and informs participants if they have been exposed to someone who has verified infection with COVID-19.
NM Notify then recommends next steps and provides guidance.
“This is a safe, anonymous way to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Collins said. “As many counties move into the Green and Turquoise levels, this is an excellent tool to prevent unanticipated spikes.”
Visit nmnotify.com to learn more.

By the numbers
The important statistics in March showed continued improvement in the war against COVID-19, at least here in New Mexico.
Except for March 3 and 5, positive test cases were 298 or fewer; hospitalizations decreased to less than 200 and no more than 138 for the month’s final 24 days.
March had 21 days with single-digit deaths, including three fatality-free days. In Sandoval County, 17 deaths were recorded for March, with zero deaths March 28-31 — and again April 1.

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Gary Herron | Observer staff writer