- Associated Press - Friday, January 15, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico officials said Friday that they were disappointed to learn that the state may not get as many vaccine doses as promised by the federal government just days ago.

New Mexico is not alone as uncertainty over the pace of federal COVID-19 vaccine allotments has triggering anger and confusion in some states. Oregon’s governor claims that efforts to increase vaccinations have been thrown into disarray because of deception by federal officials.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and top health officials had said at a briefing Thursday that they expected more vaccines to be available in the coming weeks and months and that the goal was to begin vaccinating the general public by mid-2021.

The focus has been on health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and staff and just recently people over age 75. Younger people who have preexisting conditions that put them at risk also are on the list.

“New Mexicans deserve clarity and transparency from the federal government about the vaccine rollout,” said Matt Bieber, a spokesman with the state Health Department.

Bieber said state officials were trying Friday to get more information about New Mexico’s allocation.

The state has one of the best vaccination rates in the U.S., with more than 108,000 shots being administered so far. Nearly 153,500 doses have been shipped to the state.

State officials have credited the success to a novel registration system that requires residents to sign up. They are then notified when they become eligible for a shot and appointment slots are scheduled. Nearly 430,000 residents - roughly one-fifth of the population - have registered.

The state will continue distributing vaccine to the most vulnerable New Mexicans as supplies arrive, Bieber said.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 161,800 this week as officials reported an uptick in new infections. Another 38 deaths were reported Friday, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to more than 2,870.

Meanwhile, Santa Fe has been ordered to repay its employees for some of their lost wages after hundreds of city workers were furloughed when the pandemic took hold last March.

The New Mexico Public Employees Labor Relations Board said in a ruling this month that the city had engaged in unfair labor practices by failing to properly notify workers of the furloughs, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

It is unclear how much the city is expected to pay. Union officials estimate the cost could be about $1 million.

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