On Monday, The New Mexico Department of Health indicated that all New Mexicans 16 and over will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine.

“President Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for vaccine by May 1. New Mexico will hit that target nearly a month early,” DOH Secretary Tracie Collins said.

In the meantime, DOH will continue to prioritize vaccine invitations for Phase 1A, New Mexicans 75 years and older, and New Mexicans 60 years and older with a chronic condition. The Department has chosen to open Phase 2 – the final distribution phase – because providers in some parts of the state are no longer able to fill appointments within Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C.

In the meantime, New Mexicans aged 75 years and older who are registered at vaccineNM.org will no longer need event codes to schedule vaccine appointments.

Instead, seniors will receive invitations to schedule appointments. At that point, they will log in to vaccineNM.org using their confirmation code and date of birth and schedule an appointment at a time and location that is convenient for them. No event code will be required, but they will still need to make an appointment to receive their vaccine.

“New Mexico has vaccinated the large majority of our seniors, and we have reached out to nearly all the rest,” DOH Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said in a press release on Monday. “We expect this change to make it easier for all remaining seniors to get their shots.”

Within the state vaccine registration system – vaccineNM.org – the Department of Health is prioritizing invitations for Phase 1A, New Mexicans 75+, and New Mexicans 60+ with chronic health conditions. As of March 28, 70.1 percent of those residents 75 years and older have received at least a first dose, and 57 percent are fully vaccinated.

Aging and Long Term Services Cabinet Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez attributed the impressive vaccination rates to her department’s collaboration with DOH and Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham.

“Additionally, our Aging Network and the Aging and Disability Resource Center have played integral roles in getting our seniors, with and without access to technology, registered and scheduled for their vaccine,” Hotrum-Lopez said. “We’re pleased to see that so many of our seniors have chosen to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to work alongside DOH to expand opportunities for our senior population to get vaccinated.”

Dustin Aldrich administers a vaccine during the vaccine clinic on April 1 at the Socorro.Sports Complex. The firefighters administered 400 COVID-19 vaccines.
Caitie Ihrig | El Defensor Chieftain photo

In addition to vaccineNM.org, DOH and ALTSD partnerships are providing a range of registration and vaccination supports for seniors and other New Mexicans, including:

Senior center vaccination events: typically one in each of the four quadrants of the state, each week. A minimum of 5,000 doses per week is distributed through these events. To date, more than 15,000 people have been vaccinated through these clinics.

Special efforts are being made to reach seniors who are homebound, through partnerships between DOH and local emergency management services and other service providers as well as pilot programs with ALTSD.

Two call centers devoted to registering, problem-solving, and scheduling for seniors, the disabled community, and other New Mexicans who need support. New Mexicans can call 855-600-3453, press option 0 for vaccine questions, and then option 4 for tech support. Those who require additional accommodations, such as a ride to a vaccine event or a wheelchair upon arrival, will receive a call back from the Aging and Disability Resource Center or the UNM Office of Community Health. In addition, family members or other supportive New Mexicans can provide assistance with registration.

Efforts are underway to reach out to seniors through the state’s managed care organizations. In partnership with state agencies, MCOs will contact Medicaid-eligible and Medicare-eligible patients and work to schedule them at vaccine clinics at their convenience.

Self-scheduling booster shots, new vaccine website

All residents who are registered at vaccineNM.org are now able to self-schedule their booster doses. Users who have received their first dose – either within the vaccineNM.org system or elsewhere – can log in, choose their location, and then select from booster appointments available to them.

DOH also announced a new website that addresses frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine, including eligibility, registration, and other health-related topics. The site also offers testimonials on COVID-19 vaccine from trusted voices in communities across New Mexico.

The site is available at vaccineNM.org/facts (vaccineNM.org/hechos en español).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that states should expect meaningful increases in vaccine supply over the coming weeks.