Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – New Mexico health care workers and pharmacists could begin administering booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to elderly residents and other eligible people next week after federal advisers cleared the way Thursday
Members of a state medical advisory team are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the booster shots, which could be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have underlying health risks.
Some individuals with compromised immune systems have already gotten booster doses, but there’s been debate among health experts about offering booster shots more broadly.
An advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Thursday to recommend the booster shot for elderly residents, but stopped short of backing boosters for younger front-line health care workers.
Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one authorized for the single booster dose, and a state Department of Health spokesman said Thursday it’s recommended individuals get the same type of vaccine for their third dose.
That means those who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines may not be able to get the booster shot – at least for now – even if they otherwise meet the criteria.
Currently, 95.4% of New Mexico residents age 65 and older are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Mayo Clinic.
That’s one of the highest rates in the nation and far above the 70.1% fully vaccinated rate among all New Mexico adults.
While some vaccinated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 amid a recent surge in new cases, the overwhelming majority of hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among unvaccinated residents.
For instance, among the 128 individuals hospitalized earlier this week due to COVID-19 cases at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, a total of 120 – or 93.6% – were unvaccinated, according to data released this week by top state health officials.
Meanwhile, state officials reported 725 new virus cases Thursday and 16 additional deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 4,735 since the pandemic hit New Mexico in March 2020.
In addition, there were 360 individuals hospitalized due to the virus – down from 388 people hospitalized a week earlier.