Take Your Shot! The Pit to Serve as Vaccination Site
Long known for housing some of the most iconic and memorable moments in New Mexico’s history, The Pit at The University of New Mexico will be home to another watershed moment. It will be transformed into a mass vaccination site for UNM Health officials to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the public.
“The University for New Mexico has been an essential partner to our communities in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and welcomes any opportunity to contribute to and serve them,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes. “It is exciting to feel such hope after the past several months. I can’t think of a more fitting location than The Pit for our trusted and dedicated healthcare heroes to deliver the vaccine to our citizens.”
“The Pit has always been more than just the home of Lobos. Almost all of us have a story of a great memory in this building. If it’s watching the Lobo basketball teams as The Pit magic comes to life or witnessing the incredible 1983 NCAA Final Four to attending a graduation ceremony here or the many countless and impactful event for our university and our community,” said UNM Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez. “Now The Pit, the home of all New Mexicans, will be home to another great memory – playing a part in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
UNM Health officials have been administering vaccinations with guidance and support from the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH). Just last week the DOH announced the next phase of vaccinations are starting. You can read more about the phases here.
“It’s really important to have a large space where we can keep people socially distant and move them quickly through vaccinations,” said UNM Hospitals Chief Executive Officer Kate Becker, JD, MPH. “UNM Athletics has always been a great partner and together we are putting New Mexicans first by opening the arena for mass vaccinations.”
Vaccinations at the Pit will begin Wednesday, January 20th. UNM Health officials estimate they will be able to vaccinate 3,000 people a day at the facility. So far the health system has administered more than 10,000 Pfizer doses to health care workers and first responders. This includes second booster doses that are required for full immunization.
While vaccinations will take place at The Pit, all registrations to be vaccinated must go through the DOH vaccination registration portal. UNM Health officials are encouraging the public to sign up now and wait for notification from DOH when they are eligible to receive the vaccine.
“As New Mexico’s only academic health center we have had the opportunity to play an integral role in the effort to vaccinate our state,” said Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for UNM Health Sciences and Chief Executive Officer of the UNM Health System. “This effort goes right to the heart of our mission, to care for all New Mexicans.”
Becker and Ziedonis both stressed that even with vaccinations New Mexicans shouldn’t let down their guard. “We need to continue to wear a mask in public, stay socially distant and practice good hygiene,” Becker said.
“We know that immunity is not instantaneous after vaccination,” Ziedonis added. “It will take time, but this is the light at the end of the tunnel we have all been searching and hoping for. It will be important for New Mexicans to register on the DOH website, get vaccinated and return for their second dose when instructed to do so.”
As to the question of whether utilizing The Pit will give UNM student-athletes an opportunity to be vaccinated now, Nuñez said, “We will wait our turn.”
“It’s important we all respect the process DOH has implemented for who is eligible and when to get vaccinated,” Nuñez added. “I know many of us are very eager, but it’s important that those most at risk, our first responders, health care workers, and essential employees go first.”
Officials do not have a timeline on how long The Pit could be utilized for vaccinations but DOH’s phases are projected to last through the summer. There are also still unknowns about how long the vaccination lasts in a person’s system and if more booster shots will be needed down the road.
“This is a start. There will be more information to come in the months ahead but right now when we think about getting our lives back, protecting our loved ones and opening back up our state, being vaccinated is the quickest way to do that,” Becker said.
For more information on the COVID vaccine or how to get registered visit the DOH website.