Albuquerque ramping up enhanced flu vaccination program

photo of albuquerque mayor tim keller at lectern
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller discusses government finances and safety nets for workers during the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 27, 2020 (Photo: Ludella Awad/ NM News Port)

By Ludella Awad / NM News Port

As flu season returns this fall, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and public health officials are urging New Mexicans to participate in voluntary flu vaccinations. This comes as the city also prepares for a potential mass vaccination effort against COVID-19.

“We’re coming into the fall. We’ve got two challenges — flu season, which is always a challenge, then on top of that, of course, we have corona,” Keller said. “These two things at the same time is what everyone is worried about.” 

In preparation, Keller announced the city will be promoting an enhanced flu vaccination program, which would also serve as a “dry run” effort  if the city provides vaccinations for the entire metro area. 

Under the program, Albuquerque will be partnering with local healthcare providers to encourage more people to vaccinate, including city employees, their dependents, seniors, and people experiencing homelessness. 

City officials will utilize community centers, senior centers, and parking lots for drive up vaccinations, Keller said 

Keller says New Mexicans will have the opportunity to participate in receiving flu vaccinations at no cost or through their health insurance companies.

“By each of us getting vaccinated, we build our community immunity to the flu and we’ll be doing our part to avoid a hospital stay and overwhelming our hospital system,” said Anna Pentler, executive director of the New Mexico Immunization Coalition. 

Standing with Keller’s concerns about COVID-19 and flu season, Dr. Mark DiMenna, deputy director of the city’s Environmental Health Department, said flu vaccination rates are falling behind normal rates this year as a result of the stay-at-home order. 

Ludella Awad is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port. She can be reached on Facebook (here) or at nmnewsport@gmail.com.