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New Mexico Offers Guidance on Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses

Sep 27, 2021

Credit Nash Jones / KUNM

SANTA FE - On Monday, the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) offered guidance on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster distribution, following a series of steps taken by the federal FDA and CDC last week.

Recommendations 

  • CDC recommends that the following groups should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series (i.e., the first 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine):
  • people aged 65 years and older
  • residents aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings
  • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions
  • CDC also recommends that the following groups may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks:
  • people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions
  • people aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting" class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">
  • These recommendations only apply to people who previously received a Pfizer-BioNTech primary series (i.e., the first 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine).
  • Occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission include front line essential workers and health care workers as previously detailed by the CDC:
  • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
  • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Corrections workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers

Background

On September 22, 2021, the FDA amended the emergency use authorizations (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 Vaccine to allow for a single booster dose (i.e., a third dose) to be administered to select populations at least 6 months after completion of a Pfizer primary series.

Following FDA authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (CDC/ACIP) met to weigh evidence for booster doses in the populations authorized by the FDA. The ACIP recommendations were amended by the CDC Director and on September 24, the CDC issued recommendations for select populations who are at higher risk of COVID-19 disease.

The ACIP and CDC’s recommendations are bound by what FDA’s authorization allows. At this time, the FDA’s Pfizer-BioNTech booster authorization only applies to these select populations who received the Pfizer vaccine as their primary series.

The New Mexico Medical Advisory Team reviewed and concurred with the CDC recommendations. Furthermore, the Department of Health strongly encourages providers to make every attempt to prioritize the highest risk people (those people the CDC says should receive the booster) for Pfizer boosters, but also ensure that those in the may group receive boosters as well. The single highest-priority category, however, remains New Mexicans who have not yet completed their primary series.

Access to Pfizer Booster Doses for Qualifying Patients in New Mexico

  • New Mexico COVID-19 vaccine providers can start providing the Pfizer booster dose to eligible patients immediately.
  • NMDOH is asking providers to prioritize, through scheduling and outreach, the higher risk groups: those 65 years and over and those who are 50 – 64 with underlying medical conditions.
  • NM will follow the eligibility criteria set forth by the CDC and included in the updated EUA. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers (fda.gov) but will work to prioritize the people at highest risk first.
  • Eligible patients are encouraged to schedule their booster dose with their medical team - their primary care provider, specialist, or pharmacy provider.
  • The statewide registration app - https://vaccineNM.org - allows booster dose scheduling for people who meet the above criteria for a Pfizer booster dose. Appointments for the first two weeks will be reserved for those in the highest risk categories: age 65+ and 50 – 64 years with underlying medical conditions. Going forward, a portion of appointments will be reserved for this high-risk group.
  • New Mexicans who need help scheduling can call the DOH hotline at 1-855-600-3453; option 0. This hotline is primarily intended for seniors and those without internet. 
  • DOH recognizes that not all providers or patients use the registration app. Patients can schedule either through the registration app or through their medical team, primary care provider, or pharmacist.
  • DOH especially encourages New Mexicans to schedule their booster doses (and any remaining primary doses) alongside their regular flu shots. These shots can be administered at the same time.
  • Proof of qualifying condition is not required; however, patients should be able to provide verbal information about their medical condition. 
  • DOH encourages medical teams to reach out to their eligible patients to inform them of the Pfizer booster dose recommendation.

Additional Provider Information:

  • Along with today’s recommendations, CDC emphasized that the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19 are those who are unvaccinated, and the nation’s priority should remain getting everyone fully vaccinated with their primary series.
  • As previously recommended, moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals who are eligible for an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine should get that dose at least 28 days after the completion of their primary series. At this time, there is no recommendation for these individuals to receive a 4th dose.
  • All COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Nearly all the cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated, with hospitalization rates 10 to 22 times higher among unvaccinated compared to vaccinated adults.
  • People are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-shot series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines), or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (J&J/Janssen vaccine). This definition applies to all people, including those who receive an additional dose as recommended for moderate to severely immunocompromised people and those who receive a booster shot.

Additional Resources:

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot | CDC

Underlying Medical Conditions for Clinicians (cdc.gov)

Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC

For physicians wishing to register to administer COVID-19 vaccine, please contact the New Mexico Statewide Immunization Information System (NMSIIS) Help Desk at covid.vaccines@state.nm.us or register online at TakeCareNM.com: For Providers | NMDOH (rtscustomer.com)