Point of distribution carts are set up at New Mexico State University’s Aggie Health and Wellness Center. NMSU purchased and equipped the carts in preparation to provide vaccine distribution for the community on its Las Cruces campus | Photo courtesy NMSU
The New Mexico State University system will play a key role in helping the New Mexico Department of Health distribute doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to the general public at its campuses throughout the state.
“The NMSU system continues to work closely with NMDOH on both COVID-19 testing and vaccinations,” said NMSU Police Chief Stephen Lopez, who has led the university’s point-of-distribution preparations. “NMSU has been closely involved in preparation, and is expected to play a very important role as the vaccinations move from Phase 1 into Phases 2 and 3, when we expect many at NMSU and in our broader communities to start being eligible to receive the vaccines.”
The collaboration will leverage NMSU locations, resources and expertise to help aid in vaccine distribution.
The NMDOH has already begun the first phase of vaccine distribution, targeting healthcare workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as first responders and elderly residents of long-term care facilities. As the state moves into Phase 2, the vaccine will be available to other older patients, those with underlying conditions, other vulnerable populations and essential workers. Later phases will roll out the vaccine to less-vulnerable populations.
The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Wednesday the launch of a website that enables New Mexicans to receive notice when they qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine. Registration is available at https://cvvaccine.nmhealth.org
NMSU has already lined up equipment, including high-capacity, ultra-low temperature storage, and volunteers from throughout the NMSU system and the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine to support the public vaccination efforts.
Lopez said more information on the vaccination efforts will be available after the first of the year as the NMDOH finalizes their plans and the public vaccine distribution shifts to the next phase.
The university has also launched a systemwide, interdisciplinary vaccine tiger team to coordinate community distribution and communication efforts related to the vaccine rollout. Team members include NMSU researchers and experts in infectious disease, public health and health communication, as well as representatives from each NMSU campus, Burrell College and the multi-agency point-of-distribution team.
“NMSU is fully prepared to begin providing vaccine doses to eligible populations in our communities just as soon as they become available,” said Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “We also have an important role to play in educating our community about the importance of both receiving the vaccine and continuing to be vigilant in protecting our community by wearing masks and using other COVID-safe practices.”
Author: Amanda Bradford – NMSU