SANTA FE – An amended emergency public health order issued Thursday by the state of New Mexico will effectively require many workers to receive a booster shot when eligible to protect against the ongoing spread of COVID-19. 

This state was one of the first to expand booster eligibility and for weeks has been recommending all vaccinated adults receive one.

The change comes as the World Health Organization and governments across the globe express serious concern about a newly identified variant, omicron, that may spread a more transmissible version of the disease that has already killed several thousand New Mexicans and seriously impacted the health of tens of thousands more.

Although experts caution that much remains unknown about the new variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week amplified its recommendation on COVID-19 booster shots, saying all vaccinated adults “should” receive one either six months after completing a Pfizer or Moderna series and two months after a Johnson & Johnson shot.

“The recent emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director. “Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant. I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness."

New Mexico’s state public health policies have for months required that many workers in higher-risk environments – including workers in all health care and congregate-care settings – be vaccinated. Public school workers and state employees, meanwhile, must submit to weekly COVID-19 testing if they are not vaccinated.

The amended state public health order, issued Thursday by Acting Health Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D., will require those categories of workers to receive a booster shot.

Those workers must receive a booster dose no later than January 17, 2022, or within four weeks of becoming eligible.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved every adult for a booster dose either six months after completing a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination series, or two months after a Johnson & Johnson vaccination.

“New Mexico is doing well with boosters, better than the national average, but we still must do better,” said Dr. Scrase. “Our hospitals are overfull, and the spread of the virus continues to exacerbate the issue. New Mexico isn’t an island, and we can’t prevent the new variant from arriving here. So we must defend ourselves with the tools we know to work: Masks, vaccines, and personal decisions that serve to protect the collective well-being.”

Staffed hospital beds remain in dangerously short supply in New Mexico. Crisis standards of care have been implemented in several New Mexico hospitals, meaning they may be forced to ration care.

The statewide requirement that face masks be worn in all indoor public spaces remains in place.

Vaccination continues to be the most effective tool against COVID-19. Get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family, and your coworkers. Visit VaccineNM.org to find locations and to sign up for an appointment today.

New Mexicans can schedule their COVID-19 booster shot at vaccinenm.org/boosters. 

Almost 75 percent of eligible New Mexico adults have completed their vaccination series, and more than 85 percent have received at least one shot.

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