The New Mexico Department of Health is encouraging women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to get vaccinated because COVID-19 during pregnancy can lead to complications. DOH issued a statement Thursday reminding the public the importance of vaccinations against COVID-19 for pregnant people. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that vaccines are safe for pregnant people. The overall risk for severe illness is low, according to the CDC, but pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to suffer severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to those who are not pregnant.
Severe illness can include hospitalization, intensive care, ventilator use or other breathing assistance and, possibly, death, according to the statement. The CDC issued a warning that pregnant people who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk for preterm birth and could be at an increased risk for other adverse pregnancy outcomes comparable to pregnant people who do not contract COVID-19.
The state Department of Health released its plan on further vaccination efforts in the state, saying the state moved past phase 1A, which featured vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and residents and employees at long term care facilities, to phase 1B. Under phase 1B, those 75 years of age or older, those 16 or older with underlying medical conditions that place them at greater risk from COVID-19, frontline essential workers who cannot work remotely, educators and other school employees and vulnerable populations such as those at congregate care facilities are now eligible to join those part of phase 1A in getting vaccinations. “DOH is pleased to release New Mexico’s vaccination plan – and to provide the clarity that New Mexicans seek about this critical effort,” Department of Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins said. The department said Collins would have further remarks in a remote press conference on Monday.
Earlier this week, Collins said exact numbers were not available because not all providers had reported their vaccination numbers, but the state estimated that about 60 percent of the 106,500 doses the state received from the federal government had been administered. At the same time, DOH announced who would be eligible under phase 1C and phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan.
The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines have already arrived in New Mexico. Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe received its first shipment of the first COVID-19 vaccine Monday. Christus St. Vincent was one of 145 hospitals in the country to receive the vaccine Monday, according to the hospital’s Facebook page.
While widespread distribution is still months away, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that New Mexico would be one of four states to participate in a pilot delivery program for the distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine, though this does not mean the state will receive doses of the vaccine before other areas. Pfizer announced earlier this month that a preliminary analysis found that the vaccine was over 90 percent effective in preventing illness. New Mexico—along with Rhode Island, Texas and Tennessee—will take part in the pilot program, which will not include any early distribution of the vaccine. “The four states included in this pilot program will not receive vaccine doses earlier than other states by virtue of this pilot, nor will they receive any differential consideration,” Pfizer said in its announcement. The pilot program is designed to “help us prepare for broader vaccine deployment in the near future, subject to authorization or approval, as we work to address this urgent public health need,” according to Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Pfizer Pio Group President Angela Hwang.
President-elect Joe Biden made COVID-19 a linchpin of his campaign, criticizing President Donald Trump’s leadership on everything from masks and packed campaign rallies to vaccines. That was the easy part. Biden now has the urgent job of filling top health care positions in his administration to help restore public trust in science-driven institutions Trump repeatedly undermined, and oversee the rollout of several coronavirus vaccines to a skeptical public who fear they were rushed for political expediency. At the top of that list is a new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, an agency where Biden faces immense pressure to move faster than any other modern president as the pandemic rages and COVID deaths are expected to surge through the winter. That agency and its beleaguered personnel will be relied on to give the green light to vaccines and therapeutics to fight the COVID pandemic.
ByCaroline Chen, Isaac Arnsdorf and Ryan Gabrielson, ProPublica |
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox. Despite President Donald Trump’s promises of a vaccine next month and pundits’ speculation about how an “October surprise” could upend the presidential campaign, any potential vaccine would have to clear a slew of scientific and bureaucratic hurdles in record time. In short, it would take a miracle. We talked to companies, regulators, scientific advisers and analysts and reviewed hundreds of pages of transcripts and study protocols to understand all the steps needed for a coronavirus vaccine to be scientifically validated and cleared for public use.
Throughout the state Saturday, activists and others marched as part of the worldwide “March for Science” that coincided with Earth Day. The largest rally in New Mexico took place in Albuquerque, at the Albuquerque Civic Plaza. In Las Cruces on Saturday morning, more than 500 people marched around downtown, then joined a rally with speakers and music. In Santa Fe, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, addressed the crowd, saying that science isn’t a partisan issue and that all “policymakers need scientists so we can make good decisions.” He also said the federal scientists, working at agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, should “be able to do their work for the American people without worrying about political interference.”
Udall said that climate change is the “moral, political and scientific challenge of our time, and we must face it head on, aggressively.”
Albuquerque’s event featured several people wearing colorful costumes, including one person dressed as a dinosaur and a couple dressed as both the Grim Reaper and a medieval plague doctor. Jackie Coombes, a microbiologist dressed as the plague doctor, said she is worried about the consequences of the federal government cutting funding on vaccines.
With a resurgence of measles in a number of states there are heightened concerns over the increase in unvaccinated children. Some politicians have found themselves involved in the controversy by backing a discredited idea that vaccinations cause autism. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have each walked back statements on the issue this week. New Mexico’s congressional delegation each backed immunization of children in statements to New Mexico Political Report. “When it comes to public health, I follow science and the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control.
While New Mexico has so far been spared from the latest outbreak of measles, the increasing number of local schoolchildren who haven’t been vaccinated is cause for concern as the highly contagious disease afflicts surrounding states. The Santa Fe New Mexican last week cited figures from the Department of Health showing a 17 percent increase since 2012 in the number of vaccine exemptions requested by parents. From the article: New Mexico law allows parents to request vaccination exemptions for their children based on medical need or religious beliefs. The exemptions registered with the Department of Health cover all vaccines, not specifically measles. But the recent measles outbreak is reason to raise awareness, said state Health Secretary Retta Ward.