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Preliminary data: NMSU employee COVID-19 vax rate on par with state First deadline for those choosing weekly testing option is next Thursday

  • By Amanda Bradford
  • 575-646-3223
  • ambradfo@nmsu.edu
  • Oct 01, 2021
Pharmacist filling vaccine syringe

Vaccine documentation from New Mexico State University system employees and students continued to drive up the tally on Friday following a Sept. 30 preliminary deadline to comply with the university’s COVID-19 policy, but early data indicates that the rate of vaccination among employees appears to be slightly ahead of the state’s rate, while the rate for students lags behind the college-age population in New Mexico.

Totals Friday afternoon from NMSU’s VaxTrax platform indicate that about 72.3 percent of NMSU employees – more than 3,250 out of 4,500 systemwide – have uploaded proof of COVID-19 vaccination. In New Mexico, 70.8 percent of those 18 and over have received a full vaccine series.

Systemwide, just over 30 percent of students – nearly 6,500 individuals – have uploaded documentation. Among those 18-24 in New Mexico, the rate of vaccination is 49 percent.

Jon Webster, NMSU system COVID-19 project manager, noted that submissions must still be reviewed and verified by specially designated staff in the Dean of Students Office and Human Resource Services. He added that the university continues to ramp up its efforts to educate students on the importance of complying with the systemwide protocol requiring them to either become vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit a weekly antigen or PCR test result in order to remain enrolled.

“Our student vaccine card upload numbers are not where we want them to be right now based on this early data – and that’s not unexpected,” Webster said. “We’re continuing to reach out to students through text message, email, social media, digital signs, and many other communication channels.”

Webster acknowledged that the added security afforded by keeping the VaxTrax site accessible only on campus or through NMSU’s virtual private network created challenges for some users.

“Many of our students had never used VPN access before, so there was a learning curve there, and our Information and Communications Technology team stayed extremely busy the last few days helping students and employees learn to navigate that process,” Webster said. Assistance is available to students and employees through the ICT Help Desk, help@nmsu.edu, or through Zoom with the meeting ID icthelpdesk.

“We are seeing new submissions continue to come in, so we expect our final verified total to be significantly higher than what we’re seeing today,” Webster said, “and to continue to rise over the next several weeks as some students and employees receive their second dose and update their cards.”

It’s not yet clear, he said, how many of those who have not submitted their proof of vaccination are planning to submit COVID-19 test results on a weekly basis as an alternative to becoming vaccinated.

“We’ll know a lot more at the end of next week when we’ve received COVID-19 test results from those who have chosen not to submit their vaccination proof,” Webster said. “Verifying everything will take some time.”

After the first testing deadline of midnight on Oct. 7 has passed, the next step in the process will be for staff to review the data and identify students and employees who are not in compliance so appropriate corrective action can be taken. 

Webster noted that, although the Sept. 30 deadline has passed, students and employees can still upload their vaccine documentation to the system.

“Once they are fully vaccinated – so two weeks after their vaccine series is complete – they can upload their card and will no longer be required to submit a weekly test result,” Webster said. “It’s not too late to avoid the hassle of weekly testing by getting vaccinated.”

The VaxTrax site is accessible at https://vaxtrax.nmsu.edu. More information about NMSU’s pandemic action plan is available at https://now.nmsu.edu.