Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – More than 9,000 New Mexicans got a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first five days after federal authorities authorized booster shots for certain populations, state health officials said Tuesday.
In all, about 195,000 state residents are eligible to get the booster shots under the current criteria, a group that includes people ages 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions, residents in long-term care facilities and those 65 and older.
Only people who have received two Pfizer vaccine doses at least six months ago are eligible for booster shots, although approval for other types of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots could be granted in the next several weeks.
However, the roughly 9,000 third doses – the number has since increased to more than 10,000 doses – administered from Sept. 24 to Sept. 29 also includes third doses given to adult New Mexicans with compromised immune systems, who had been able to get the extra shot even before the state began offering the booster shots.
That’s because the state’s current tracking system does not distinguish between the booster shots and the third doses for immunocompromised individuals, Department of Health spokesman Matt Bieber said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, younger front-line New Mexico workers will be able to start scheduling booster shots next week, as state health officials delayed their eligibility for two weeks to give a head start to elderly residents.
New Mexico has one of the nation’s highest COVID-19 vaccine administration rates. As of Tuesday, 80.4% of state residents 18 and older had received at least one vaccine dose and 71.1% of adults were fully vaccinated.
Most new cases and hospitalizations reported during a recent surge fueled by the delta variant of COVID-19 have occurred among unvaccinated residents, although some vaccinated individuals have also tested positive.
State health officials reported 540 new cases in New Mexico on Tuesday – a number that’s less than the average of 590 new cases per day during a recent weeklong period.
But 352 people were hospitalized in the state due to the virus – up from 301 a week earlier.
And the Department of Health reported seven deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 4,830 since the pandemic began in March 2020.