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New Mexico rolls out new vaccine for the COVID XBB variant

Coronavirus and syringe isolated on blue background. COVID-19 new variant vaccination concept
Creative Commons
Coronavirus and syringe isolated on blue background. COVID-19 new variant vaccination concept

KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper talks with Dr. Miranda Durham, medical director of the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH), about the roll-out of the new XBB COVID vaccine in New Mexico.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, greenlighted a new vaccine specifically targeted to the XBB variants of COVID. Here in New Mexico, the vaccine should be available as early as the week of September 18. The typical way to get the new shot is to make an appointment with a pharmacy. For the insured, their shots should be covered. For the uninsured, the federal government has a “bridge” program so that pharmacies can provide shots and then get reimbursed by the feds. It’s not clear when the “bridge” program will take effect. The state health department also plans to have some mobile clinics.

Following CDC guidelines, DOH recommends that everyone 6 months or older should get the new XBB vaccine. And the department especially urges those who are older or with underlying health issues to get the new XBB shot. With regard to other preventative measures like masks and social distancing, Dr. Durham said that DOH will not issue mandates at this time. That said, the department is a “believer” in masks in certain circumstances.

According to the CDC, COVID hospitalizations (though the numbers are not large) have increased 50 percent in New Mexico in the most recent week. Test positivity stands at 20 percent. However, emergency room visits due to COVID are down.

Mary Lou Cooper reports on consumer issues for KSFR as well as on politics and elder affairs. She has worked for the U.S. Congress as well as for the Nevada and Tennessee legislatures, and remains a political junkie. She worked many years for an association of Western state legislatures and was a contributor to “Capitol Ideas,” a national magazine about state government. In 2016 Cooper received a public service award from the New Mexico Broadcasting Association for her KSFR story on Internet romance scams. She has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and from the National Federation of Press Women. She grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and received her BA from Emory University in Atlanta and her MA from the University of Texas Austin. She also holds fiction and screenwriting certificates from the University of Washington.