Educators among those vaccinated in Lea County | KOB 4

Educators among those vaccinated in Lea County

Tommy Lopez
Updated: January 03, 2021 10:13 PM
Created: January 03, 2021 07:17 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Approximately 100 teachers and other school staff in Lea County received a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.

They were the first educators in the state, that KOB 4 is aware of, to receive the vaccine.

Educators are not in the first phase for vaccine distribution. The vaccine is supposed to go to people who work in the healthcare industry.

However, the CEO of Nor-Lea Hospital, David Shaw, one of the people in charge of vaccines at the facility, said they are staying within the rules.

"We're following the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) and CDC guidelines to make sure that we get those individuals that are at highest risk and also those individuals that can contribute most to stabilizing the economy going forward," Shaw said.

In New Mexico, hospitals make requests to the state for the number of doses they want.

Nor-Lea Hospital District received 750 of Pfizer's so far, which 100 short of what they requested.

Shaw said all the health care workers, to his knowledge, that requested the vaccine received it.

"We did a pretty comprehensive effort of getting the word out to everyone in health care in our county and getting them enrolled that wanted to be, and I think we saw an uptick of around probably 40% of the workforce that actually wanted to take the vaccine," Shaw said. 

Shaw estimates about 60% of health care workers in Lea County turned down the vaccine.

Shaw said many didn't want to be among the first to receive the vaccine. 

Hospitals only have four days to give a dose once it leaves a freezer. Shaw said they made the decision to vaccinate people in the education field, so vaccines wouldn't be wasted.

"We have done a number of teachers but certainly not all the teachers, and they have not been the sole focus," Shaw said.

More than half of the Pfizer doses in Lea County have gone to people 75 years old or older.

Law enforcement officers, firefighters, jail guards, and food service workers have also received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Lea County.

A spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Health said the vaccine distribution in Lea County was in compliance with the state's guidance.

"The state has had a policy in place that allows vaccine providers to vaccinate outside the current phase if they have exhausted opportunities to vaccinate within the phase, and if doing so will allow them to avoid allowing vaccine to go waste," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Moving forward, Lea County will continue to request doses of thee Pfizer vaccine-- with people 75 years and older getting priority.

The Moderna vaccine is being given to people in long-term care facilities.

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