This week saw numerous shake-ups in rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination at state and county levels.
Despite the fact that Holy Cross Medical Center gave out more than 1,000 doses of the vaccination this week (with 900 booster shots scheduled for next week), they are expressing concern about the state’s seemingly ever-changing vaccination guidelines.
“Moving forward, our focus, based on the updated phasing rules from the state, will be booster shots, Phase 1a healthcare workers, Phase 1b populations (>75 years of age and >16 years of age with at least one chronic medical condition),” Holy Cross Medical Center said in a weekly update to employees.
HCMC also expressed concern that some essential workers are being left behind in the confusion.
“The fact that we cannot finish the ‘essential worker’ groups that we started is of great concern to us but until we get more product and until the state updates their phasing rules again, we no longer have control of that part of the process. We have many businesses that clearly met the essential worker definition and really should be vaccinated but there is really nothing we can do.”
According to HCMC CEO Bill Patten, the Moderna vaccine is only available at El Centro and Questa PMS at this time. He does say that Walmart and Albertsons pharmacies will be receiving the Moderna vaccine soon as well. HCMC does, however, have the Pfizer vaccine, though Patten said HCMC would like to receive more supply.
“We wish we could have about 2,000 doses per week rather than the [roughly] 1,000 doses we are currently getting,” he said.
The hospital will monitor the positivity numbers closely going into the Super Bowl (which it views as a minor concern) and Spring Break (which it views as a major concern.)
Patten said HCMC will continue to adapt to changing situations with the help of the local community.
“This effort [is] a community partnership – we could not do it on our own.”
Lastly, with the recent news that New Mexico schools will soon have the opportunity to resume in-person learning, Patten said HCMC is planning for alternate vaccination locations in the event that students return and they are required to leave the Middle School gymnasium.
I would like to have something about this effort being a community partnership – we could not do it on our own. Also, we are planning for an alternate location just in case the local schools go back to in-classroom instruction and we need to vacate the Middle School gymnasium.
On the state level, the state health department announced an expanded vaccine dashboard that includes county-level data, which includes county-by-county vaccination numbers and new maps depicting statewide vaccine distribution.
Additionally, the state announced it will now follow federal CDC guidelines and expand the time window for administering the booster dose of COVID-19 vaccinations. Previous protocols called for a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered after 21 days, and the Moderna vaccine after 28 days. The new guidelines state that the booster dose should be administered as closely to that window as possible, but they allow for the possibility that access to the vaccine may make exact timing difficult.
In a news release, the state said, “If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on [the] efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window.”
According to the CDC vaccine data tracker, which looks at a number of different state-by-state metrics including number of vaccinations distributed and the number administered per 100,000 people, New Mexico ranks as the second best state.
As of Monday (Feb. 1), New Mexico had given out 13,126 vaccines for every 100,000 people. That puts the Land of Enchantment just behind the leader, West Virginia (14,526) and just ahead of North Dakota (13,054).