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Tierna Unruh-Enos is the managing editor and associate publisher at The Paper.

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As New Mexico slowly opens up within the “Red to Green” framework set forth by the state’s department of health, some employers are encouraging their staff to travel out of state for the COVID-19 vaccine. Ten Thousand Waves Spa in Santa Fe is one of those employers.

On Feb. 8, spa management sent out an email to staff letting them know that it would be “helpful for the health and well being of our staff if as many as possible could get vaccinated.” One staff member who wished not to be identified said she felt uneasy with the email because she felt that the initial email was encouraging groups of people travel to Amarillo in order to be vaccinated. In the email, staff are encouraged to “Check the website for hours and availability and take a road trip! It could be the most important thing you do all year.”

The company’s human resources department sent a follow up email last week re-framing the company’s stance by clarifying that employees were not required to get a vaccine, nor were they required to go out of state. According to the employee she said HR was emphasizing the importance of registering locally, but also let staff know they would “contribute travel expenses ($50) on a per-person basis, for any employee or contractor, whether they travel solo, with family/pod members, or with fellow employees.” When asked if she felt pressure to travel to Amarillo, she said no.

A manager at Ten Thousand Waves confirmed that the company was encouraging staff to get vaccinated and that they were offering stipends for travel should employees go out of state. “We feel it’s the best thing for the health of our employees and our guests the more people are vaccinated,” he said.

According to the state department of health, the demand for the vaccine currently is outweighing the supply. Over 600,000 New Mexicans are registered to receive the vaccine, Over 350,000 have received their first shot and almost 200,000 have received their booster shot. That leaves over 110,000 people registered in the state that haven’t received their shot. Opening up registration for the the next phase is on the horizon, and will likely create an even greater demand. Traveling out of state to receive the vaccine may start looking like a more enticing option rather than navigating the system.

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