ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The latest numbers from the state show not as many New Mexicans are rolling up their sleeves for the newest COVID-19 booster shot. Of those 65 and older, only eight percent have gotten the latest booster compared to 62% who got last year’s Bivalent booster. The numbers are even lower for the other age groups.

While it’s important to note this latest booster hasn’t been available as long as the past vaccines, turnout has still been low. “If you compare the second week of the rollout of the Bivalent and the second week of the rollout of this vaccine, the numbers are lower this year,” said Miranda Durham, Chief Medical Officer for the New Mexico Department of Health.

Story continues below

NMDOH said the turnout could be due to a number of factors, including how the commercialization of the vaccine impacted the rollout. “I’m not sure that there was anything that particularly went wrong just it was you know, not the system we were used to for the past three years,” said Durham.

Instead of a streamlined rollout through the federal government, this time pharmacies and hospitals had to order the vaccine. “I think pharmacies had appointments ready to go and had to cancel them because their vaccine hadn’t arrived,” said Durham.

NMDOH plans to launch a winter respiratory illness campaign soon as more vaccine becomes available, encouraging more people to get the shot. Durham noted while COVID can be mild, it still leads to more hospitalizations and deaths than the flu. “COVID, flu, and RSV roll in at the same time to state and completely overwhelm hospital system so that would be nice to avoid,” said Durham.

NMDOH is reminding the public that those without insurance can still get free COVID-19 vaccines. NMDOH offers the free vaccine at all of its 40 locations throughout the state.