State health officials warn of risks from Delta COVID variant for those not fully vaccinated

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- State health officials Friday continued to urge people in New Mexico who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to complete their series, as research shows they are at greater risk to be affected by the latest variant.

Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase says he’s happy with New Mexico’s vaccination progress so far, as nearly 60% of people eligible and 16 and up are fully vaccinated.

When asked what New Mexico’s vaccination report card is thus far, Dr. Scrase said, “I think we get an A. We are clearly at the point where we are at 60%.”

The state is still near the top of U.S. vaccination rankings.

“New Mexico is generally at the bottom of every list, you know,” Scrase said. “So for us to get to 60%, with the rural nature of our state, is really amazing.”

About 8% of those eligible, or 143,531 people, have one shot but are not fully vaccinated.

When asked what he’d say to someone who might be debating whether to go get a booster shot, Scrase said, “I’ve got some data that actually, when I saw it earlier this week, I actually dropped my jaw.”

He’s talking about the huge rise of the Delta variant in southern Asia. He says it could affect New Mexico, and those fully vaccinated are far better protected.

“If you’ve had one of the two-shot-series vaccines, it’s only 33% effective. If you’ve had both shots, you’re up to 88%,” he said.

But Scrase does not believe the variants we know about today could cause restrictions to return.

“I’m seriously hopeful we’ll never see the need to shut the state down again,” he said. “We’re now going to move into two pandemics. We’re going to have a pandemic amongst the vaccinated that’s pretty much over, and then we’re going to have a pandemic amongst the unvaccinated, and my biggest worry is those kind of serious outbreaks in smaller counties with very low vaccination rates.”