Although New Mexico is third-best in the nation in the percentage of eligible residents being vaccinated against COVID-19, the main

Clockwise from top left, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins, Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase and an American Sign Language interpreter participate in a webinar on COVID-19-related topics Wednesday.

problem, said state Department of Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins, is the supply and demand mismatch.
That’s occurring nationwide, with many mass-vaccination sites closed in recent weeks because of the lack of vaccine available.
New Mexico, Collins said, is expecting more than 72,500 doses this week, which amounts to an increase of about 4,700 over last week. The state is administering an average of nearly 11,000 doses each day, she added.
Per her data available for her Feb. 17 webinar, 99 percent (about 450,300) of the approximately 454,000 doses received by the state had been administered.
The number of doses expected in coming weeks could be higher, Collins said, as she didn’t know how many doses of the newest vaccine, the single-dose version from Johnson & Johnson, the state would receive. She did say she anticipates that J&J vaccine, which doesn’t need to be stored in sub-zero temperatures like the other two, will primarily be sent to rural and hard-to-get-to areas.
Nationwide, according to The New York Times, experts say an appropriate goal is 3 million shots per day — probably by April. At that pace, half of adults would receive their first shot by April and all adults who wanted a shot could receive one by June, saving thousands of lives and allowing normal life to return by midsummer, according to the Times.
The key fact is that the delivery of vaccine doses is on the verge of accelerating rapidly.
Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase was optimistic last week that when the latest red-yellow-green data comes out Wednesday, more counties will enter the “Yellow” tier.
But, Scrase cautioned, “As we re-open, we expect viral transmission to increase,” and, “Our goal is actually to prevent counties from snapping back, green to yellow, yellow to red.”
To help mitigate that, he advised people — noting a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline — to “double-mask,” preferably donning cloth masks over the paper, surgical masks worn.

COVID trending down
As the COVID positive-test cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decrease in the state, there were “numbers” to take note of from the state Department of Health’s update Feb. 16.
Although there were 308 positive test cases in the state, the two Rio Rancho ZIP codes were among the top-three in the state with the most cases: 87144, north of Northern Boulevard led the way with 16 such cases; 87124, south of Northern, was third with 11 cases.
On Feb. 17, 87144 rated fifth and 87124 was 10th, with nine and seven cases, respectively.
After an average daily count of 650 hospitalizations in the month of January, February daily hospitalizations have dropped from a high of 492 on Feb. 2 to fewer than 300 Feb. 14-18.
A growing body of science indicates that schools and day cares aren’t the hotbeds of viral transmission that we feared they were last spring, according to The New York Times. CDC director Rochelle Walensky has even said reopening can happen before teachers get vaccinated, with scores of experts polled by the Times agreeing.
On Feb. 12, the CDC released new guidelines for reopening, which recommend in-person elementary instruction at any level of community COVID-19 circulation, and in-person middle and high school at all but the highest levels.

What to expect when vaccinated
Dr. Seun Falade, an associate professor of infectious diseases at John Hopkins University, said during a late-January webinar presented by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, that for the Pfizer and Moderna two-shot vaccines — three weeks and two weeks apart, respectively — “When I got my vaccine, it was in my upper arm.
“And I’m going to confess that my arm did hurt. And we know from the clinical trial that over 50 percent of people that get the vaccine will have some discomfort in their arm.
“Some people will have a mild fever, and some people will have chills. But these symptoms go away completely within 48 hours. It’s also important to note that it takes approximately two weeks after the second shot to get the maximum protective effect from the vaccine.”

Here comes another vaccine
According to The New York Times, the World Health Organization on Feb. 15 authorized the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which should clear the way for the cheap and easy-to-store shots to be distributed in lower- and middle-income countries around the world.
A small clinical trial in South Africa recently failed to show that the vaccine could keep people from getting mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 caused by a coronavirus variant spreading there, yet protected all participants against severe disease and death in other trials, according to the Times. It may yet prevent severe disease and death caused by the variant originally detected in South Africa.

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer