ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – School districts like Albuquerque Public Schools are partnering and hosting shot clinics offering the newest COVID vaccine, specifically made to fight off Omicron variants. But will anyone take up the offer? The latest data shows fewer people, especially kids, are getting that updated booster.
“What we’re seeing with every ensuing vaccine is that fewer and fewer people are getting that vaccine. And then when you compare adults, especially the oldest adults to younger children, they have much less booster intake than the adults,” said Dr. Laura Parajon, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health. “We’re concerned for the winter because as we’re seeing more people gather indoors, and people have more chance to get a respiratory infection like COVID that’s so infectious, there’s more chance of people getting sick or hospitalized.”
According the state’s dashboard, only about 1,600 12-17-year-olds have gotten the updated COVID vaccine shot. That’s compared to 60% of that age group getting the initial series of shots.
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NMDOH said fewer kids may be getting the shot because of confusion among the different shots and doses, because the virus is more severe in the elderly, or simply because people have returned back to pre-pandemic behaviors and activities. While data shows the virus is less severe in children, NMDOH said kids still need protection.
“Super valid for parents who are wondering yeah, should I really get my child vaccinated this winter,” said Parajon. “Most of the times, COVID isn’t as risky for children but it still can be. There are still a lot of children who get sick. You also don’t want your kid to miss school, like our kids missed so much school during the pandemic and that really affected them.”
Dr. Parajon also said getting kids protected will help protect older populations from COVID and themselves.
“We still have to protect our older populations from COVID…but like I said there are still kids who are getting sick, there are kids who still get long term effects from COVID, they can get long COVID, so that’s why we’re really encouraging parents to get vaccines for their kids when they’re eligible,” said Dr. Parajon.
NMDOH also notes that immunity wanes over time, saying people of all ages should get the updated COVID vaccine shots just like they do with the flu shot. It is unclear when we could see that updated booster available for children under five.
The lack of receiving the updated shot is not just among the young. The state’s dashboard also shows only 10% of those 65 and older have gotten the updated Omicron booster, versus 97% completing the initial vaccine series. Dr. Parajon said the majority of cases in the state are of the Omicron variant.