New Mexico rolls out fourth COVID-19 shot for immunocompromised

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Department of Health began telling some people in the state that they are now eligible for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose Monday.

The state health department notified 20,000 New Mexicans via text message – only immunocompromised people have received a text so far, according to an NMDOH spokesperson. Another batch of text messages will be sent out on Tuesday.

The rollout comes days after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s surprise announcement that the state’s mask mandate had been lifted.

A local health expert says it could be worth waiting. Dr. Alex Cvijanovich, president of the New Mexico Pediatric Society says there isn’t data available yet on another booster that would support getting it – or not getting it.

Data does show the current series of shots is effective at keeping people out of the hospital right now.

"I worry that people are jumping the gun by getting a fourth dose now because they keep coming up with new variants. Viruses are smart," said Cvijanovich.

She says if there’s a new variant down the road, pharmaceutical companies may modify their vaccines. If someone gets a booster now, they may have to wait longer for that new modified dose because there needs to be a few months in between doses.

A Department of Health spokesperson did not give KOB 4 a response when asked about those concerns.

Vaccines for children younger than five are on hold right now – the FDA is asking Pfizer for more data. It appears the company’s vaccine is safe for that age group – it’s just not as effective. The recommended dose is so low, there may need to be a third shot.

"I think it’s really important that we do things right and carefully. Knowledge is power,” said Cvijanovich. “And we need to be able to tell parents with a fair bit of certainty how many doses their kids are going to need."

Cvijanovich said many families are frustrated a vaccine isn’t available for those kids at this stage in the pandemic. She also said there is a small percentage of young children who are having severe reactions to the omicron variant.

State officials say the growing supply of treatment options for COVID-19 is one of the main reasons why they lifted the indoor mask mandate.

As always, health officials say you can consult your doctor about anything related to vaccines or treatments.