New Mexico to give more priority to vaccinating 16, 17-year-olds

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As New Mexico continues to lead the nation in many facets of the COVID-19 vaccination effort, the next group to get priority in the state is teenagers.

There are new plans to get thousands of 16 and 17-year-old Albuquerque Public Schools students vaccinated in the next few weeks.

“We were really excited that we have an opportunity to help them get access to the vaccine,” said APS Interim Chief Operations Officer Dr. Gabriella Blakey.

With 16 and 17-year-olds now cleared to get the Pfizer vaccine, the state wants to spread the word. It’ll be advertising on social media.

Albuquerque Public Schools announced they want to jump right in the mix. The district has 20,000 students at those ages, and they’ll all have the chance to get a dose starting mid-week next week.

“Now we’re able to focus on our students and the youth of Albuquerque to start getting them vaccinated,” Blakey said.

Students need to sign up on the Department of Health website, and a parent or guardian will need to go with them to get the shot. APS vaccinated 50 Eldorado High School students already, as a test run.

The collaboration with the DOH, the city, and UNM Health means there will be entire events just for 16 and 17-year-olds.

“This is really targeting them with our partners to make sure that we’re able to hit a larger number of them at once,” Blakey said.

APS said the demand is there.

“I think there’s a huge need,” Blakey said. “They have close-contact jobs over the summer. A lot of them are going away to school, to college or to work or into the military and all these other places, that they really want that sense of protection, and also we have an obligation to help the community in New Mexico on the lead for reaching herd immunity.”

Rio Rancho Public School students aged 16 and older can go to an event on Tuesday. The district is working on more opportunities in the future.

Santa Fe Public Schools is not holding clinics, but the DOH has an event for those 16 and up in Santa Fe Saturday.

18-year-olds are included in these efforts and will have access to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, but don’t need permission from a parent.

Pfizer said it hope to expand its vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds, and has asked for emergency use authorization to do so.