Firefighters administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at the
Socorro Sports Complex on March 18.
Caitie Ihrig | El Defensor Chieftain

The New Mexico Department of Health on Friday, Mar. 19, announced that all New Mexicans in phases 1B and 1C of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plane are now eligible for vaccines.

Up until last Friday, only four groups were eligible for vaccine:

  • Phase 1A (primarily health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities)
  • New Mexicans age 75 and older
  • Educators, early childhood professionals, and school staff
  • New Mexicans with a chronic health condition

These groups remain eligible. In addition, the following groups are now eligible:

  • Frontline essential workers
  • Residents of congregate care facilities
  • New Mexicans age 60 and older
  • Other essential workers

In total, all of Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C are now eligible. Combined, these phases represent approximately 1,620,000 out of the 1,680,605 New Mexicans who are aged 16 and over and therefore eligible for vaccines.

Phase 2 will likely become eligible in mid-late April. This phase takes in members of the general public not included in one of the above categories.

The Friday announcement came after DOH achieved the key milestone of more than 60 percent of currently-eligible groups receiving at least their first shot.

The phase transition was also triggered, in part, by a recognition that vaccine providers in many parts of the state are no longer able to find eligible New Mexicans to fill appointments in their area. While providers will continue to prioritize members of earlier phases in scheduling appointments, providers will now have the option of inviting New Mexicans in later phases when they cannot fill appointments otherwise.

“By expanding the pool of New Mexicans eligible for vaccine, we can keep the momentum going and ensure that New Mexico remains one of the nation’s vaccination leaders,” DOH Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said. “At the same time, we will redouble our efforts to reach and vaccinate seniors and others in the early phases who have not yet received their shots.”

Among New Mexicans 75 years and older who are registered for the vaccine, approximately 73 percent have received at least the first shot – and nearly all of the rest are scheduled for a second appointment.

Nonetheless, DOH recognizes that some seniors – both 75-plus, and those 60-74 with chronic conditions – have not yet received an appointment. DOH says it recognizes that in some cases, seniors and other New Mexicans may require different kinds of support in order to get registered and vaccinated.

For these reasons, DOH will continue to expand its menu of supports for seniors and other New Mexicans, including:

  • Vaccine registration by phone. Users who have questions or would like support with the registration process – including New Mexicans who do not have internet access – can call 1-855-600-3453, press option 0 for vaccine questions, and then option 4 for tech support.
  • Special accommodations. New Mexicans who call to register and require additional support (for example, a ride to a vaccine event or a wheelchair when they arrive at a vaccine site) will receive a call back from the Aging and Long Term Services Department or the Office of Community Health at UNM.
  • Homebound vaccinations. Plans for expanded homebound vaccination opportunities will be announced in the coming days.