The Latest: New Mexico preparing for 'vaccine hesitancy'

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First lady Jill Biden watches as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gives a sticker to a woman who had just received a COVID-19 vaccination during a visit to First Choice Community Healthcare - South Valley Medical Center in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, April 21, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico health officials say they are preparing to respond to pockets of vaccine hesitancy in some communities as overall interest increases in receiving the vaccine for COVID-19.

State Health Secretary Tracie Collins said Wednesday that statistics on those trends are being reviewed this week. New Mexico is among the top states for immunization rates with nearly 40% of the population fully vaccinated.

Collins said the state is exploring the recruitment of “community champions” — trusted residents of regions with vaccine hesitancy who can address concerns about safety and efficacy. Question-and-answer style town halls are also a possibility. And video testimonials about coronavirus vaccines already have been recorded.

“We’ve got a lot of work we’re going to be doing these next few weeks to really get ahead of this vaccine hesitancy,” Collins said.

Human Services Secretary David Scrase added that physicians and other direct medical providers also have a crucial role to play in allaying fears.

“It really is more, I think, about giving people the opportunity to have a conversation about what their concerns are ... and work through those,” Scrase said.