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Vaccines now open to all New Mexicans 16 & over; Las Cruces young adults ‘super excited’ to get shots

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- All New Mexicans age 16 or older who wish to be vaccinated against the coronavirus now have a chance to receive their shots, as Monday marked the start of expanded eligibility under the state Department of Health’s distribution plan.

Young service industry employees from Las Cruces told ABC-7 that they were eager to get their first shots.

“When I got the text, I was super excited to finally be able to schedule an appointment," said 22-year-old Elizabeth Mandragon, who works at Mom's Coffee in Las Cruces.

The coffee shop's owner, Patricia Rajaniemi, also works a nurse in El Paso. After witnessing the devastation in area hospitals this past year, she highly encouraged all her employees to get vaccinated.

“It was scary for me because I feel like I’m responsible for their health," Rajaniemi said. "So, we wanted to be as safe as possible. I am beyond happy that now they can all get their vaccinations.”

The timeline for getting more shots out to the general public was sped up under a directive by the Biden administration to make all adults in the U.S. eligible by May 1. State officials also said they opened up eligibility because providers in some parts of the state were no longer able to find people to fill appointments.

Still, state health officials said those who were part of the earlier phases will be prioritized. That includes health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, and older New Mexicans with health conditions that put them at greater risk.

More than 30% of New Mexico's eligible population has been fully vaccinated. State data also shows that about 48% of residents have received their first shot.

Researchers at University of New Mexico Health Sciences have announced they plan to participate in a national clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine in children.

Walter Dehority, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor in the UNM pediatrics department, said the project is awaiting final regulatory approval before launching. If approved, the trial would involve 6,750 children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years and participants would be followed for a year after the second vaccination.

Although most children appear to suffer few or no symptoms when infected with the coronavirus, Dehority contends there are still reasons to get them vaccinated. He said having children vaccinated would boost heard immunity among the overall population.

Frequently asked New Mexico vaccine questions

How do I sign up?

New Mexicans can register for the vaccine online or by telephone.

When you register online, you’ll be asked for your name, date of birth, ZIP code, contact information, employment and health condition. After you register, you’ll be provided a confirmation code so you can log in to the system and provide insurance information and other details.

Those without insurance information can also register by calling 855-600-3453 press option zero for vaccine questions, and then option 4 for tech support.

Which vaccine will I get?

At this time there is no way to choose which vaccine you receive; however, the only vaccine approved for teenagers 16 and 17 is Pfizer. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine have only been approved for people 18 and older.

When can I make my appointment?

Once vaccines become available in your area, you’ll receive a text message and/or an email from the Department of Health letting you know that you can log in to make your appointment.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Associated Press

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is a former ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and weekend evening newscast anchor.

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