Tanya Lattin, commander at the Corrales Fire Department, gives an N.M. resident his first dose of the vaccine in August 2021. (Photo by Shelby Wyatt / Source NM)
New Mexico public health officials are expecting the new omicron COVID-19 boosters to arrive at health care providers across the state this week.
The bivalent boosters, approved by the FDA on Aug. 31, are meant to provide protection from severe disease and death resulting from an infection with the strains of coronavirus known as omicron-BA.4 and omicron-BA.5.
The new vaccines are free, for now, though that is likely to change in the fall or winter when the federal government will stop buying them and people will have to pay for them out-of-pocket, according to the White House.
To be eligible for the new vaccines, you must be at least two months out from your most recent vaccination, the New Mexico Department of Health said in a Sept. 2 news release. You must also be recovered from your most recent COVID infection, according to the CDC.
There are two bivalent boosters currently available, one made by Pfizer and the other by Moderna. For people aged 18 and older, they recommend the booster made by Moderna.
For people aged 12 to 18, DOH and the CDC recommend the Pfizer booster.
There is no omicron-specific vaccine available for people younger than 12, which advocates see as yet another failure on the part of the U.S. government to include vulnerable populations in the pandemic response.
The federal Food and Drug Administration “will work quickly to evaluate future data and submissions to support authorization of bivalent COVID-19 boosters for additional age groups as we receive them,” the agency said on Aug. 31.
For people who have already completed their primary series, and for those who have had one or two boosters already, DOH is recommending the new vaccines be administered as a single booster dose.
If you are seeking the new omicron vaccine but have not had any other booster yet, you can use this new one as your booster shot.
New Mexico had 54,400 doses of bivalent boosters as of Sept. 2, and DOH will order more “as needed,” the agency said.
According to DOH, less than 75% of adults in New Mexico and about half of eligible young people in New Mexico have gotten boosted.
That means to get the new vaccine to every eligible New Mexican, the state would need 343,216 boosters, or six times more doses than what’s on-hand today.
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