Gov. Lujan Grisham, state health officials stress importance of booster shots

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – With the surge in COVID cases, health officials said New Mexico is seeing a pretty big jump in children’s cases – about 25% of all cases in the last week.

The uptick is primarily in the five to 17-year-old age range.

Health officials attribute that to the more contagious Delta variant and the fact that kids are in school, where the virus can spread faster.

While most of the cases aren’t as severe, health officials said that age range can still spread the virus to vulnerable populations.

They said vaccinations are important for that group of children.

Health officials said the rollout of that vaccine is going well. Around 10,000 New Mexicans participated that first week out of the gate.

“We know that children are at low risk of serious outcomes. But they are not at zero risk. So the best way to protect your children, these vaccines are safe and highly effective. This is the best tool to protect your kids and to prevent onward transmission of the virus and to help us end the pandemic,” said Dr. Christine Ross, NMDOH state epidemiologist.

KOB 4 did ask if New Mexicans could expect to see any sort of mandate. Health officials say if that happened, that would be much further down the road.

State health officials also believe waning immunity has a role in the COVID-19 surge New Mexico is seeing.

They said boosters need to be administered around the six-month mark after full vaccination.

A majority of cases are still among those who are not vaccinated and it is putting a major strain on hospital resources. Health officials said there are now six hospitals in the state operating in crisis standards of care. They said they are transporting around 40 to 80 patients a week out of state for care.

Health officials also mentioned CDC recommendations on boosters for those 18 and up in high-risk settings. They believe all of New Mexico is a high-risk setting because of the rate of spread in the state.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also pleading with New Mexican to get vaccinated.

“Every New Mexican I am sure, every American, everyone around the globe wants desperately to hear the pandemic is over. That we have conquered COVID, that vaccine which are incredibly effective and safe and are the way out of this pandemic but we’re not there because unvaccinated populations around the globe continue to spread the virus and create risks for all of us. Including for some degree individuals who are vaccinated,” said Lujan Grisham.

New Mexico is one of eight states to open booster shots to everyone 18 and older.

Almost 29% of cases are among those who are fully vaccinated – 71% among those not vaccinated.

Almost 80% of hospitalizations are patients who are not vaccinated.

Health officials said hospitalizations are now the highest they’ve been since January of last year.