New booster for COVID-19 variant available in New Mexico as COVID hospitalizations decline
For the first time in months, the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Level map shows not a single county in New Mexico is red, which would indicate high levels. That means fewer people are being hospitalized due to the virus. But the same updated data from the CDC continues to show that the transmission rates of COVID remain high, with that map turning very red. Fortunately, New Mexicans can now access boosters that target the Omicron variants of the virus.
The Department of Health says the BA.5 sub-variant accounts for around 80% of the COVID-19 cases in New Mexico. DOH is getting an initial allotment of 54,400 doses of the new booster and will no longer be scheduling appointments for the previous versions of the booster shots.
These new boosters are free until the federal government shifts vaccine costs to health insurance companies and consumers. This policy continues to leave vaccination up to individual judgment and access, which frustrates disability advocates like Beatrice Adler-Bolton, co-author of Health Communism.
"This is a public health crisis that is being privatized before our eyes," said Bolton.
The new booster is unavailable for those under 12. DOH also reports only 1 in 4 of those aged 12-24 are up to date on their COVID vaccinations.
New Mexico reported over 30 deaths from COVID since the beginning of September. The state continues to have the 5th highest COVID mortality rate among states and territories– McKinley County now ranks 4th among counties since the pandemic began. Last month, a study found that Native Americans lost 6.4 years in life expectancy since 2019 due to the pandemic, over three more years than Whites.
De Baca County alone shows low, or blue, rates of viral spread on the COVID transmission map, while 18 counties show red or high levels of COVID transmission. Proper use of N95 masks indoors reduces the spread of the virus.
FEMA offers up to $9,000 of assistance for COVID funeral expenses — call 844-684-6333 to apply. The FEMA program is included in the updated list of COVID-19 resources. Those who need the new Omicron-specific boosters can register at cv.nmhealth.org. The next DOH COVID Briefing on Sept. 15th at 2 pm will be available on the NMDOH Facebook page.