Third jab proving to be a charm in COVID fight - Albuquerque Journal

Third jab proving to be a charm in COVID fight

Diego Loya gets a COVID-19 vaccine at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe in December. Members of the New Mexico Army and Air National Guard administered about 200 vaccines, mainly booster shots, at the event. Data shows that New Mexicans with a booster shots were more protected from COVID hospitalization and death than those who were fully vaccinated but hadn’t received a booster. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The third jab is proving to be effective in New Mexico, according to recently released data comparing outcomes for unvaccinated, vaccinated and boosted people for COVID-19.

During a recent four-week period that included the peak of the omicron variant, an unvaccinated person was eight times more likely to die of COVID compared with a vaccinated person who hadn’t had a booster shot. An unvaccinated person was 29 times more likely to die than a person who was vaccinated and had a booster.

The data was released this week in a vaccination epidemiology report published on the New Mexico Department of Health’s website. The weekly report for the first time compared people who had only two shots of vaccine and those who had three.

The difference was significant.

“Almost all of our deaths these days from COVID are in unvaccinated or … unboosted individuals and we are getting to the point with COVID … where the vast majority of (deaths and serious illness) are preventable,” Dr. David Scrase, acting state health secretary, said during a news conference this week.

From Jan. 10 to Feb. 7, there were 216 COVID-related deaths in New Mexico. Unvaccinated adults accounted for 88.9%, or 192 of the deaths. The other people who died had all been vaccinated – 19 had completed only their initial vaccine series and five people had had their booster shot, according to the vaccination report.

That means vaccinated New Mexicans who had a booster accounted for 2.3% of the deaths and vaccinated adults who hadn’t had the third shot accounted for 8.8% of the deaths during that four-week period, which saw record-breaking counts of over 5,000 and 6,000 daily cases at times.

A state vaccine dashboard shows 77.5% of New Mexicans 18 or older are fully vaccinated and 42.9% have had their booster shot.

“We’re working hard to promote, or boost, if you will, the booster shots,” Scrase said.

The vaccine and booster shots are also effective at staving off hospitalization.

From Jan. 10 through Feb. 7, an unvaccinated person was four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than someone who was vaccinated and six times more likely to be hospitalized than someone who was vaccinated and boosted.

Vaccinated and vaccinated-and-boosted individuals did make up a significant number of the new cases during the recent surge. During that four-week period, unvaccinated people made up 51.1% of total cases, vaccinated adults without a booster shot made up 32% of cases and people who had received all three COVID shots made up 16.8% of cases.

On Thursday, New Mexico reported 1,837 new cases and 32 deaths, pushing the statewide toll to 6,629. There were 534 people hospitalized with COVID in New Mexico on Thursday.

Scrase cautioned this week that although case counts are falling in the state, he expects the death count to remain high for several weeks because deaths often lag behind new cases and hospitalizations, and the state hasn’t yet collected all the death certificates from people who died during the recent surge.

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