NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Registration for COVID vaccine number four is now open to certain New Mexicans. This comes as a relief to some who were terrified when the mask mandate was lifted last week. Some people applauded when the governor surprisingly lifted the mask mandate last week.

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New Mexican’s battle cancer had a different reaction. “They’re scared. They’re scared that they’ll be in the grocery store or a public place and stand next to someone who is an asymptomatic carrier of covid,” said Dr. Barbara McAneny, CEO of the New Mexico Cancer Center.

With the blanket mask requirement and provided layer of protection gone, McAneny says the New Mexico Cancer Center’s patients felt even more vulnerable. “We know cancer patients who get COVID tend to do very very badly with that disease,” McAneny said.

The New Mexico Department of Health started sending out text messages to New Mexicans who are classified as “moderately or severely immunocompromised,” recommending they get a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine two or three months after their third dose.

On that list, are organ transplant recipients and people being treated for cancer. “I would like to see a little more data before we start giving people a fourth injection,” said Dr. McAneny.

According to the CDC, people are considered to be moderately or severely immunocompromised if they have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress their immune response

The CDC updated its guidance, urging immunocompromised people to get the fourth dose last month. But McAneny says her practice has not received any specific data from the NMDOH as it normally would. “We need more detail, as practicing clinicians, to know what is the best option for each individual patient in front of us,” said Dr. McAneny.

As of now, McAneny believes getting a fourth dose should happen on a case-by-case basis, saying some patients’ immune systems may not be able to handle it. “I’m frankly not sure that giving them a fourth vaccine is going to help,” McAneny said.

NMDOH is expected to release more information on the fourth vaccine dose later this week.