Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico: full vaccination also means boosters
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Going beyond federal guidelines, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Wednesday that she believed being fully vaccinated meant three injections and insisted that all adults to his state are eligible to receive their reminders.
She made the comments during a virtual pandemic briefing, citing the growing number of COVID-19 infections among residents who received their vaccines more than six months ago.
Some cities and states already allow all adults to receive Pfizer vaccine boosters, but that is not yet official US policy. In the past week, California, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia and Colorado have extended injections to all adults. New York City has made a similar move.
State health officials have expressed concern about the decline in immunity and the role it has played in the recent spike in cases. The latest state data shows that nearly 29% of confirmed infections in the past four weeks were among those vaccinated. Yet unvaccinated people represent higher percentages of people hospitalized or deceased from the virus.
The Democratic governor, who is running for re-election, blamed the unvaccinated for the ongoing pandemic, but later admitted that those who are vaccinated can also contract and spread the virus. She said those who often have only mild symptoms and don’t end up in the hospital.
“We know that vaccinations are the most effective tool to both stop the spread of the virus and protect us and our families,” she said. “So we’re looking at what we can do to create these incentives – and potentially these mandates – to make sure people are fully immunized, which means three shots.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr David Scrase said discussions were underway to change the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated and that he expects a new order of health public policy will be put in place in the coming weeks.
This will mean policy changes for hospitals and state agencies as Lujan Grisham has already made vaccination mandatory for health workers, educators, other school staff and all state officials.
Some employers, such as the Los Alamos National Laboratory, have also imposed mandates in recent months for workers to be “fully immunized”.
Officials said it was still too early to say whether COVID-19 vaccinations will be needed for schoolchildren. They expect more data on children to be available by the summer, which could help the decision-making process.
Scrase said many health workers were already online when the recalls were announced, so he is confident the absorption rate among this group will be high. He also noted that workers who got vaccinated at the last minute to keep their jobs would still have at least six months to consider receiving boosters – or two months if they received the vaccine. Johnson & Johnson fired.
Almost 74% of adults in New Mexico are considered fully immunized by the current definition. Data released at the briefing showed more than 292,000 booster doses have been administered in the state since August 1. Officials said the administration of recalls in New Mexico was above the national average.
The United States recommends boosters for people who initially received their second Pfizer or Moderna injection at least six months ago if they are 65 years of age or older or are at high risk of COVID-19 due to health concerns or their working or living conditions. Boosters are also recommended for people who received the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine at least two months ago.
Officials said Lujan Grisham made the decision this week to make boosters available to all adults because the condition is considered “high risk” given the rates of spread reported statewide. In two counties – De Baca and San Juan – more than 22% of tests in the past two weeks were positive.
State officials have also vowed not to abandon testing, saying it is a valuable tool that helps track the virus.
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