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New Mexico health officials on Thursday touted the new COVID-19 booster, along with an aggressive plan to bring it to the most vulnerable populations.
The state has announced a timeline to get the Omicron booster to seniors and residents of long-term care facilities in the next six weeks. There are around 240 assisted living facilities, 70 nursing homes and over 200 senior sites in New Mexico.
There are also plans for drive-thru clinics and to offer the flu vaccine at the same time.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase hopes people in general will take advantage of the new booster. If the roughly 65% of New Mexicans who routinely get a flu shot also get the booster, that would put the state at a high vaccination rate.
“I think we’re going to have to play it by ear. We have seen a declining interest in the vaccine as we added new age groups,” Scrase said. “I consider this ‘the COVID vaccine’ for 2022. I’m hoping people will hear that message and be more likely to get it with their flu shot this year than not.”
Getting this latest booster will fit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s revised definition of being “up to date” on COVID-19 vaccines.
There are also no plans to end New Mexico’s current COVID-19 emergency public health order. Scrase said maintaining public health emergency status enhances federal benefits for many low-income residents.
“There is very little likelihood that we will end our public health emergency before the federal government does. It would create a very, very difficult situation for the … 970,000 some people on Medicaid in our state.”
Health officials also touched on the presence of monkeypox in New Mexico. There have been 33 reported cases in the state so far. The U.S. has documented over 22,700 cases.
The first dose of the monkeypox vaccine has been administered to 1,749 New Mexicans. Only 179 have received the second dose.
Monkeypox is a viral infection that can cause painful lesions or sores. It is rarely fatal. One death has been reported in the U.S.