San Juan County offers vaccine clinics amid COVID spike

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FARMINGTON N.M- With a spike in cases and a strain on hospital resources, San Juan Regional Medical Center is the first hospital in the state to enact crisis standards of care.

“We thought that we were going to perhaps get through this pandemic with the advent of the vaccine but we’ve learned that this virus is somewhat difficult to predict. And here we are again with what is likely to be our greatest surge ever,” said Dr. Brad Greenberg, emergency physician at SJRMC.

Several vaccine clinics have or will be taking place next week, including some specifically for children ages 5 to 11. The new clinics come at a crucial time for San Juan County. In October, the hospital had 289 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“Of those 289,234 of them were patients that were not fully vaccinated, that’s 81%,” said Jeff Bourgeois, CEO of SJRMC.

Of the 23 patients that required ventilators, 21 were not fully vaccinated. The hospital also had 17 deaths.

“Of those 17 deaths, 16 were among patients that were not fully vaccinated,” said Bourgeois

This week, residents of San Juan County received public safety alerts, calling attention to the low vaccine rates in several zip codes across the county. As of November, about 54% of people are fully vaccinated. Health officials are hoping the new clinics will bring that number way up.

“Really, our way through this is going to be just some of our individual choices as individuals and as members of this community. One of the most important things that can be done as a member of the community is going to COVID-19 vaccine,” said Greenberg.

With the hospital currently in crisis mode, health officials said people should continue to follow COVID protocols like wearing a mask and social distancing.

On Nov. 8 through Nov.10, people can receive the first, second or third dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the San Juan County health office. The Nov. 9 clinic at the public health office will be for children 5-11.

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