Low COVID-19 vaccination rates in the Permian Basin prompted a new inoculation campaign by energy producers in New Mexico and Texas.
The Permian Strategic Partnership (PSP) launched the campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy head-on by highlighting the widespread impact of the virus and rallied residents to protect their communities, stated a PSP news release.
“Over 2,200 Permian Basin residents have passed away from COVID. Still, the region has a low vaccination rate compared to the rest of the country, and many remain vaccine-hesitant,” the release indicated.
As of Nov. 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cited 69 percent of the U.S. population had at least one COVID-19 dose and 59 percent had both vaccinations.
Vaccination rates in Eddy and Lea counties, were below national and state data, according to the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH).
As of Nov. 24, 85 percent of New Mexicans had at least one COVID-19 dose and 74 percent had both vaccinations.
Per DOH, more than 22,000 Eddy County residents had both vaccinations. DOH cited Eddy County’s population at 42,816.
While 53 percent of Eddy County’s residents had both shots. Sixty-one percent had one dose, per DOH data.
In Lea County, more than 27,000 residents or 54 percent had both COVID-19 vaccinations. DOH said 50,322 people live in Lea County and 62 percent had at least one COVID-19 dose as of Nov. 24.
“It’s been improving recently. But, when you look at the Permian Basin versus the country it’s a relatively low percentage of the population that has been vaccinated,” said Don Evans, PSP chairperson and former U.S. Commerce Secretary.
“None of us have ever seen anything like this. The science has been moving fast on it. The science is irrefutable,” he said.
The vaccination roll out campaign is two phases and runs through mid-2022, the press release read.
“We will use television, social media. We’ll be out talking about the importance of the vaccine among our friends and neighbors. We’re going to stay with this for a number of months,” Evans said.
“Some of the areas that have been hit the hardest (by COVID-19) are some of the areas with the highest vaccination rate. Because those citizens that were hit early realize how important that vaccine is and so they all went out and got vaccinated.”
In the news release, PSP stated vaccines could keep hospital capacity open and support healthcare professionals.
DOH said 648 individuals were hospitalized across New Mexico for COVID-19 as of Nov. 24.
Artesia General Hospital’s website said 20 Eddy County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms as of Nov. 22.
“We appreciate the work of the Permian Strategic Partnership to try and help inform the community about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination,” said Melissa Suggs, Carlsbad Medical Center spokesperson. “Vaccination remains the best strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.