Four hundred thirty-seven people were vaccinated March 5 for COVID-19 at Northern New Mexico College, though not everyone who received the vaccine received an appointment from the state Department of Health.
The vaccine event was hosted by the Department of Aging and Long Term Services and was scheduled to provide 250 vaccinations. The pharmacist arrived that morning with over 400 doses.
Breanna Anderson, the public information officer for the Department of Aging said they’ve vaccinated more the 7,808 people through their events.
“We received additional vaccines from DOH in order to support the push notifications that were sent to additional eligible participants. Where we see an increased demand and need for vaccines, we do our best to accommodate that need if we have supply, in this case we did.”
However, Anderson said misinformation about how to receive the extra doses lead to a large crowd forming outside Eagle Gymnasium at Northern.
“Everyone who had a confirmation code was vaccinated, no one who had a confirmation code was turned away,” Anderson said. “It is incredibly unfortunate that false information was spread by the radio station as well as the superintendent. This misinformation led to a confrontational and aggressive crowd of individuals who were not confirmed to receive a vaccine. We will continue to vaccinate in-phase as determined by the Department of Health and encourage the community to register and only attend a clinic if they are confirmed to be there.
“We also ask that our media partners and leaders support this process of ensuring those who are most vulnerable receive the vaccine as soon as possible,” Anderson said.
Alfredo Montoya, the Rio Arriba County Fire Marshal and Chief of Emergency Medical Services said that no one who had an appointment was denied a vaccine.
“Some people were turned away that have not had an appointment,” Montoya said. “Appointments are sent out by the DOH, I don’t see the count codes or anything like that. Of course it’s disappointing to show up and not get the vaccine.”
Montoya said that early on there were not that many people waiting to receive the vaccine and he was asked if there was enough to start vaccinating teachers.
“The request was asked to the pharmacist, he said that if there was any extra but I did not make that call,” Montoya said.
Montoya said he talked with Rudy Sisneros from KDCE who he said also denied airing anything about people receiving vaccines.
Fred Trujillo, the superintendent for Española school district said in an email he received word from a fire Marshal that there were extra vaccinations available.
“I received a phone call on Friday morning (March 5) from a local fire marshal from the Department of Emergency Preparedness,” Trujillo said. “I was informed that there were 80 extra doses of the Pfizer vaccination available, and we were invited to send staff to get vaccinated. I was informed that the only requirement was that the individuals had to be registered on the DOH site prior to arriving on the campus for the vaccination as there would be no on-site registration. I emailed our staff making them aware of the vaccination availability giving them the opportunity to get their vaccine. Many staff members went and were vaccinated.”
Ester Garcia, the office manager for KDCE, the radio station from which people at the clinic said they heard news that there was available vaccine, denied anything like that was said on the radio. Garcia said two of her employees received the call saying they could receive the vaccine.
“A couple of my people were down there and they were notified,” Garcia said. “It was never announced on the radio, only the people who registered got a call.”
Additional doses are distributed by the Department of Health who will send out emails to create appointments to fill in slots when vaccine distributors receive extra does.
Rio Arriba County Health and Human Services Director Lauren Reichelt said if anyone receives an email about an appointment it must be responded to as quickly as possible.
“If you wait even 30 minutes it’s too late,” she said.
Once responded to, the Department will provide an event code that can be used to receive the vaccine.
Montoya said when they had their first vaccine events at Northern the line was going all the way up the hill, but as people realized that they will get their vaccine if they follow the schedule the lines have gotten shorter. Montoya said this was a blessing because they still had mostly older people receiving the vaccine who couldn’t stand for long periods of time.
“If people are following the schedule they are going to get their vaccine,” Montoya said.
The sign up process can be confusing to some people, he said. Part way though the process a confirmation code is provided that must be entered to continue enrolling.
Montoya said anyone could call the fire and emergency services office number at (505) 747-6367 to receive help signing up for a vaccination.