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First Lady Visits ABQ and Navajo Nation


First lady Jill Biden has kicked off a three day visit to the U.S. Southwest on Wednesday with a tour of a vaccination clinic in New Mexico, where early efforts to get people registered for shots helped to propel the state’s standing as a national leader in vaccine distribution.
The tour includes stops in Albuquerque and later the Navajo Nation as the United States is set to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 200 million coronavirus doses in his first 100 days in office. The president also outlined his administration’s latest plans to motivate more Americans to get shots as demand diminishes.

In New Mexico, nearly 40 percent of residents 16 and older have been fully vaccinated. Earlier this month as part of the Biden administration’s pushed for more eligibility to open up. Now New Mexico is looking to vaccinate younger people before they leave school for the summer break. The Dept of Health says it’s also trying to reach leaders within local communities to help combat skepticism about vaccine efficacy and safety. The first lady encouraged people waiting for shots at a clinic in Albuquerque.

“I’ve had the shot, and it doesn’t hurt,” she said at the clinic that the governor described as a linchpin of efforts to serve minority communities.

Staff at the Albuquerque clinic have been working overtime and on weekends to immunize more people.

“It’s been a long year. People are tired, but they’re hopeful,” said Will Kaufman, medical director at First Choice Community Healthcare.
Biden was with Gov. Lujan Grisham, whose administration has been working to ensure that shots are distributed to rural and underserved areas through mobile clinics and partnerships with community health organizations.

At a drive-thru vaccination clinic in remote Mora County on Tuesday, health workers and members of a volunteer medical corps sped through a list of registered patients and offered shots of the Moderna vaccine to unregistered companions and a few passersby. Emergency technicians fanned out at day’s end, traveling down dirt roads to administer shots to elderly residents who can’t leave home in a large county with with only 4,500 residents who are 80 percent Hispanic. Mora County is one of the poorest in the country.

As part of her swing through the Southwest, the first lady also will meet Thursday with Navajo President Jonathan Nez and first lady Phefelia Nez in Window Rock, Arizona, before delivering a radio address. She is scheduled to attend a listening session Friday with Navajo students before taking a tour of a vaccination site that caters to Native Americans.

As the Biden’s visit to states that stretch to border with Mexico, state health officials highlighted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is required to stay away from vaccine sites and that the state only shares information with federal immigration officials under very extraordinary circumstance