NMDOH: Children now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

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COVID-19 vaccine for children

The New Mexico Department of Health and Public Education Department on Wednesday announced children ages 5-11 are now eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer children’s dose contains one-third of the active ingredient found in the adult dose. Children should receive a second dose three weeks or more after their first shot.

NMDOH officials said parents will see more and more appointments open up as the days go by – so be patient and keep checking for appointments. Thousands of families have already locked down appointments after scheduling opened Wednesday morning.

"This is great news for New Mexico public schools, where the spread of COVID-19 continues to be a real concern," Public Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus said. "This means our elementary school students can now be protected from the dangers of COVID-19 just as their older siblings, parents, grandparents and teachers are already."

Right now, New Mexico has 30,000 doses for children 5-11. Another batch should arrive before the end of the week, and a third shipment should arrive by Wednesday of next week – 90,000 doses total. That’s enough for about half of all the eligible children in the state.

State officials are not expecting delays as they order more doses.

According to the NMDOH, some larger vaccination events for children are in the works. They said they’ll release more details on those events soon.

Appointments can be scheduled at www.vaccineNM.org. Parents can also visit www.vaccineNM.org/kids.

New "Test to Stay" guidance changes school-based quarantine requirements

On Wednesday, state officials also announced a new program coming to New Mexico schools, meant to avoid students having to quarantine if they might be exposed to someone with COVID-19. It’s called "Test to Stay" and it is fueled by a $64 million federal grant funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and administered by the CDC.

The new program was tested in Alamogordo with success. The program allows students and staff close contacts to continue participating in classes and extracurricular activities if they test negative on rapid COVID-19 tests on days one, three and five following a possible exposure.

Some schools will roll the program out soon – for others, it may take three to five weeks.

Notably, NMDOH officials said schools are not fueling the uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Assistance for New Mexico hospitals in crisis standards of care

In an update Wednesday, state health officials also said nearly 200 health care workers will be added to New Mexico hospitals across the state to help ease the strain.

Here’s a breakdown of the current staffing support:

  • Alta Vista Regional Hospital (Las Vegas): 15
  • Carlsbad Medical Center (Carlsbad): 17
  • Eastern NM Medical Center (Roswell): 16
  • Gerald Champion Medical Center (Alamogordo): 17
  • Los Alamos Medical Center (Los Alamos): 4
  • Lovelace Medical Center and Heart Hospital (ABQ): 22
  • Memorial Medical Center (Las Cruces): 29
  • Mesilla Valley Hospital (Las Cruces): 14
  • Mimbres Memorial Hospital (Deming): 2
  • Mountain View Regional (Las Cruces): 19
  • San Juan Regional Medical Center (Farmington): 41

Pending staffing support:

  • 26 DMAT for Farmington
  • 94 additional requested statewide