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More shipments of COVID-19 vaccine arrive in New Mexico

December 22, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Thousands of front-line health care workers in New Mexico have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and officials with a few of the state’s major hospitals said Monday that they expect to finish vaccinating their workforces in the next two to three weeks as more doses arrive.

Like other states, New Mexico learned last week it would be getting about one-third fewer doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech in a second shipment. Those 12,675 vaccines arrived Monday and will be distributed to nearly two dozen hospitals Tuesday.

Initial shipments of Moderna’s vaccine, the second greenlit by the federal government, began arriving Monday, state health officials said. Those will be funneled to staff and residents at long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

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While some politicians have received their shots, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and members of her Cabinet have not. She called the vaccine a “bright light of hope” but said it’s not the silver bullet.

While the number of confirmed cases reported each day has decreased, Lujan Grisham on Monday reiterated her call for people to be cautious during the holidays and not give the virus an opportunity to spread by gathering with others and not wearing masks. She said a post-holiday surge would derail the state’s progress.

“It’s clear that New Mexicans are working hard to protect one another and slow the spread of the virus, for which I am so grateful,” she said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The progress we’re making in our fight against COVID-19 is promising — but we can’t let up now.”

More than 130,800 confirmed cases have been reported in New Mexico since the pandemic began. That includes an additional 826 cases reported Monday, marking one of the lowest daily totals since the beginning of November.

Meanwhile, the state’s death toll inched closer to 2,200, with an additional nine deaths reported Monday. Hospital officials said during their briefing that the statewide tally is reflective of the high incidence among New Mexicans of underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

Hospital officials also reported overwhelming interest from their employees in getting the vaccine. They also said there have yet to be any adverse reactions beyond arm soreness and fatigue.

At University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, the initial focus has been on employees — whether they are doctors, nurses, physical therapists or part of the cleaning crew — who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients. Dr. Rohini McKee, chief quality and safety officer, said hospital officials are asking employees to be patient while vaccinations are scheduled.

McKee said there was an atmosphere of hope and happiness among the front-line workers who were first to get shots. Still, she echoed the governor, saying it’s not the time to let up on public health requirements imposed to limit transmission.