NMDOH secretary shares why New Mexico has the top vaccination rate in the nation

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico is leading the nation for COVID-19 vaccine distribution for numerous reasons, including mass vaccination clinics, targeted outreach and opening vaccine registration to everyone 16 and older nearly a month before the federal deadline.

"In New Mexico currently, more than 55% has received at least one shot and 36% are fully vaccinated," New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said. "Thanks to our state’s vaccine equity plan, this includes high proportions of minority and socially-vulnerable communities."

The state health secretary virtually testified in a Senate hearing Thursday morning on getting trusted vaccine information out to the public. New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujan chairs the Communications, Media and Broadband subcommittee.

"What can the nation learn from New Mexico’s Dr. Collins?" Lujan said during the hearing. "How has your message strategy been so successful, especially considering the diverse and highly rural communities across New Mexico?"

Collins said the state health department has engaged the community through public service announcements and press conferences. She said that with federal funding, the department was able to hire communication specialists to do vaccine outreach, including one focused specifically on communities of color.

Collins said the state has consistently seen an increase in vaccine registration after holding town halls.

"Reaching people, especially in a diverse state like New Mexico, means speaking to people in their languages and at the appropriate level of health literacy," she said.

Collins said the biggest impact, though, comes from everyday New Mexicans telling others about their own vaccination experience.