NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – From healthcare workers to nursing home residents, many of the New Mexicans who face the most danger with COVID-19 are not eligible for the booster shots. Nearly all patients in nursing homes and long-term care facilities received Moderna vaccines, according to the state. The state says they’re not eligible simply because the FDA and CDC have only approved boosters for Pfizer. However, it says boosters for Moderna are in the works.
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“I think we’re likely to see a review and approval for Moderna and perhaps J&J down the line, not too far down the line, in the near future,” said Matt Bieber, director of communications for New Mexico Department of Health.
The FDA is currently considering half-doses of Moderna’s vaccine as a booster shot. New Mexico Department of Health does not recommend people who got Moderna to switch over to Pfizer shots since the FDA and CDC have not approved that.
Until Moderna receives federal approval for a booster shot, NMDOH acknowledges it’s a waiting game for those who got Moderna. It’s encouraging them to stick with COVID-safe practices and stay calm.
“Please know that there’s no need to panic or be concerned. The original vaccine series are still really effective,” said Bieber.
Immunocompromised people who got Moderna or Pfizer can get what’s called an “additional dose.” That helps immunocompromised people reach the full benefit of immunity while a booster shot simply boosts waning immunity levels.
At its peak in June, the state was administering about 20,000 booster shots a day. That’s down to a trickle and mass vaccination sites are closed down. While the state may not see as many clinics or partners helping as before, the state is working to bring back help for booster shots.
“Given the need to give vaccine boosters to what will likely be most of the state, we obviously want to bring back as much of that infrastructure as we can,” said Bieber.
Bieber said the state is finalizing a contract with a third party to open vaccination sites and bring mobile teams to help administer booster shots. The details of how many sites we could see and when they’ll be up and running are not finalized yet.
The state surveyed 10,000 vaccinated New Mexicans and with more than of them responding, 90% said they plan to get a booster shot when eligible.
“Based on data, we think the demand’s going to be quite strong,” said Bieber. “If you remember, the folks who were vaccinated first were in many cases the most eager and the most vulnerable. And now, they’re the folks who are eligible for boosters. So we expect uptake to be pretty high from that group.”
NMDOH has data on how many New Mexicans received each vaccine and will track booster shots but is still deciding if and how it will display that information on the public vaccine dashboard.