Only one in five New Mexicans who are eligible for the Omicron booster have received the updated shot as of Thursday, according to a news release by the New Mexico Department of Health.
This news comes as the federal government retires the vaccine used for the original wild-type strain of SARS-CoV-2 and instead authorizes just the vaccine commonly known as the Omicron booster.
Guidance on when to get vaccines and if a person is eligible is discussed below, adapted from a series of flowcharts created by Dr. Elisabeth Marnik, assistant professor at Husson University. Before you get there it’s important to understand two terms, monovalent and bivalent.
“Monovalent” means the dose is for the original wild-type strain of SARS-CoV-2, the most common vaccine Americans received and the one that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is retiring.
“Bivalent” means the dose is split between the RNA sequence for the wild-type, and the remainder is the sequence for the more recently evolved Omicron variant. This will be the vaccine most people will receive for the foreseeable future.
The dosage will depend on someone’s age and their immune status.
There is not yet CDC guidance for immunocompromised children under the age of 6.
Over 65 years, not immunocompromised
Anyone that’s gone at least four months since they got bivalent vaccine is eligible for another dose.
Same goes for anyone that received a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine but hasn’t gotten the booster. They can sign up to get a bivalent.
6 to 65 years, not immunocompromised
Anyone in this group who received a bivalent booster is not eligible at this time for another shot.
People who have not received any vaccine can get one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent.
Anyone unvaccinated that was infected in the last three months, is eligible for a bivalent, but may want to consider waiting.
If you haven’t got a bivalent, but have got any monovalent, and it’s been at least three months since you’ve been infected, and at least eight weeks since your last monovalent, then you’re eligible for a bivalent, but you may want to consider waiting a longer interval.
If you haven’t got a bivalent, but have got any monovalent, and it’s been at least three months since you’ve been infected, but your last monovalent was less than eight weeks ago, then you should wait for a longer interval.
5 years, not immunocompromised
Children who received the booster will have to wait, they are not eligible under the guidelines.
Children without any vaccine are eligible to get one dose of the Pfizer bivalent or two doses of the Moderna bivalent.
If they haven’t got a bivalent but got any monovalent, and it’s been at least eight weeks since their last monovalent, then they’re eligible for one bivalent Moderna or Pfizer.
If they haven’t got a bivalent but got any monovalent, and it hasn’t been at least eight weeks since their last monovalent, then they’ll be eligible after eight weeks.
6 months to 4 years, not immunocompromised
Any child in this age range is up to date with their vaccine if they received at least two doses of the Moderna bivalent.
If they got a Pfizer bivalent, and have at least three doses including at least one bivalent, then they’re up to date.
If they got a Pfizer bivalent, but have not got at least three doses with at least one being bivalent, then they’re eligible for a third bivalent dose, which should be at least eight weeks after the first one.
Any children in this age range that are unvaccinated can get three Pfizer bivalent doses or two Moderna bivalent doses.
If they haven’t got a bivalent but do have one Pfizer monovalent, then they’ll be eligible for two more bivalent doses, three to eight weeks between doses one and two, and at least eight weeks between doses two and three.
If they haven’t got a bivalent but do have two Pfizer monovalent doses, then their third dose should be bivalent and at least eight weeks after their last dose.
If they haven’t got a bivalent but do have a Moderna monovalent, then they’re eligible for a bivalent at least four weeks after their first monovalent dose.
Over 6 years, immunocompromised
If they got a bivalent, and have been infected or vaccinated in the last two months, then they will be eligible once it’s been at least two months.
If they got a bivalent, and it’s been at least two months since their last infection or vaccination, then they’re eligible for a bivalent every two months.
If they haven’t got a bivalent, but have got any monovalent, then they’re eligible for a bivalent every two months or at least two months after their last infection.
If they haven’t got a bivalent nor a monovalent, then they can get one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent.
How to register
People can sign up for their vaccine appointment by calling 1-855-600-3453 (option 3, option 9 for Spanish), online at vaccineNM.org, vaccineNM.org/kids, vaccines.gov, or through their medical provider or pharmacist.
New Mexico residents can still receive mail order free at-home COVID tests through DOH’s partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s Project Act program while supplies last at accesscovidtests.org/.
Free at-home tests are available until May 11, or while supplies last at covid.gov/tests.