ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some state lawmakers and 4H families are calling on the governor to drop the vaccine mandate for children at the New Mexico State Fair. They said they have worked this past year raising their animals and preparing their produce. With the state fair starting in just a few weeks, the mandate gives them too short of notice, and many will have to drop out of the competition.
After last year’s virtual-only state fair, kids said they have been excited for the fair to return in person. Makenna Woods said she is ready to show her sheep and goats this year. “It means a lot to me because I am out there almost every single day,” Makenna said. “I put the work into it, and I work really hard.”
While the 11-year-old will be able to compete, some of her older friends might not. “It is going to be a big game-changer,” Woods said.
That is because Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday a vaccine mandate for everyone going to the fair. Children under 12 are exempt because they are not yet eligible for the vaccine, but the rest of the kids competing in livestock competitions have to. McKenzie Luna, 18, has been competing for about six years now, but she is choosing to sit out of this year’s fair instead of getting vaccinated. “It is not something I would do for any other reason, so it is not something I would do just to attend the state fair,” Luna said.
Some Republican lawmakers are urging the governor to remove the mandatory vaccination for children at the fair. Right now, Pfizer is the only vaccine available to kids which requires two doses a minimum of 21 days apart. Wednesday marked 21 days from the fair. Sen. Crystal Diamond said that is too short of notice. “Some concerns of exhibitors even willing to get vaccinated point out that there is not even enough time to complete two-dose cycle so they are completely left out of the process after working all year,” Diamond said.
A spokesperson for the governor said that children are not immune to COVID-19, and Tuesday the governor said this mandate is to ensure the safety of all fairgoers, especially children who can’t get the vaccine yet. The governor’s spokesperson said the virus has the opportunity to continue to spread among unvaccinated people, particularly at large events.
The state fair is under the state’s authority, so she said vaccines are required because anything less is irresponsible. “Do I think that COVID doesn’t exist? No, that’s not it either,” Makenna’s mom, Summer Woods, said. “The thing is, these are unrealistic expectations.”
People who are exempt for things like medical reasons must provide a negative COVID test within 48 hours every time they enter the fairgrounds. The New Mexico State Fair said there were 1,800 livestock entries prior to the governor’s announcement. KRQE News 13 asked how many participants have dropped out since, but they did not have that number.