Just 5% of eligible New Mexicans have latest COVID vaccine
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Just 5% of eligible people in New Mexico six months or older have gotten the latest COVID-19 vaccine, a Department of Health spokesperson told KOB 4 on Thursday.
Fewer New Mexicans are getting the shots compared to people nationwide. Around 16% of adults and just 7% of kids in America have the most recent booster, the CDC reported earlier this month.
“The fact that we only have 5% of people boosted is I think a little bit scary for us,” Department of Health epidemiologist Madison Schaeffer said.
The DOH hopes that number goes way up – and soon.
“These vaccines are very safe and very effective,” Schaeffer said. “It’s really important that people get this. Our hope is that people start to think of this like flu vaccines, which is something they should be getting every fall.”
Immunity goes down if it’s been a while since someone’s gotten a shot, and they have an increased risk of serious, or even deadly, symptoms.
“Some of these vaccines can help prevent Long COVID, which is something that people are worried about,” Schaeffer said. “Even if you are a young and healthy person, you might be interacting with people who aren’t, or who can’t get vaccinated.”
Multiple studies and surveys show about 4 in 10 U.S. adults probably won’t or definitely won’t get the shot, and a similar number do not plan on having their kids get it.
For some, they don’t want the symptoms the shot itself can bring.
“It’s a whole heck of a lot better to spend one afternoon feeling maybe not super hot from the new booster, versus spending a week, 10 days, if you get a serious case of COVID, you’re going to have to miss a bunch of work,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer points out that the new Novavax shot could be a good option for people who don’t want a vaccine that uses mRNA.
Many people in the studies said they haven’t had enough information about COVID vaccines, and public health experts believe that falls on local governments and health officials.
The Department of Health is advertising vaccines on traditional broadcast mediums, like on KOB 4, and on social media, and the department has texted people to let them know the vaccines are available.
The DOH could spread the message even more if it had more funding. States like New Mexico aren’t getting as much money as they were during the height of the pandemic.
The Department of Health advises that people talk to a trusted health care provider like a primary care doctor, a pediatrician or a pharmacist for more information on the vaccines.
And there’s a DOH hotline where workers can answer questions and schedule vaccine appointments. It’s 1-833-796-8773.
A spokesperson for the office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement:
“Vaccination continues to be a crucial tool in fighting COVID-19. We strongly encourage all eligible individuals to schedule their appointments at VaccineNM.org, especially as we gather with our families this holiday season.
The Department of Health is actively working to increase vaccination rates through public education and outreach programs.”