New Mexico Starts Vaccinations for Children 5-11

Public Education Department announces new program to curb school quarantines

Following approval by federal regulators, New Mexico health officials today announced children ages 5-11 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The dose for that age group contains one-third the amount of active ingredient compared to the adult dose; children will receive a second dose 21 days or more after their first shot.

The state is encouraging parents to schedule children’s primary and booster shots with their primary care physicians or through the statewide vaccine COVID-19 vaccine registration system Parents can also add dependents to their existing vaccine scheduling profile via

During a weekly COVID-19 update, Department of Health Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón said the state is expecting 90,000 doses for children in three shipments and has already received the first, but urged parents to remain patient as the state waits for more vaccines to arrive.

“There are some slots available right now, but we’re waiting for providers to get all their vaccine,” Parajón said. Health officials also said they plan to offer larger-scale vaccination clinics for eligible children in the coming weeks. The state has 188,866 children in that age group and will begin posting their vaccination rates next week.

Parajón said officials hope children ages 5-11 will achieve vaccination rates on par with those in the 12-17-year-old demographic, in which 62.7% people have had at least one dose and 54.5% are fully inoculated.

Currently, 82.6% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 72.7% are fully vaccinated. Among that age group, 11.8% have had a booster shot. In Santa Fe County, 93.3% people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 82.5% are fully vaccinated. The state continues to see an uptick in vaccinations, Parajón said, and officials encouraged anyone who is eligible to seek out a booster shot this week.

Public Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus also announced a new “Test to Stay” program he says the state will roll out in the next five weeks that substitutes COVID-19 rapid testing in lieu of quarantines for unvaccinated students and school staff who have been exposed to COVID-19. In short, asymptomatic students or staff members identified as close contacts for someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 can receive rapid COVID tests on days one, three and five following exposure and, if negative, remain in school rather than quarantine for 10 days.

The program comes through a $64 million American Rescue Plan Act and is administered by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers. It will allocate a $70,000 base grant plus $30 per enrolled student to registered districts to cover expenses related to developing a school surveillance testing program. According to a news release, 68 of New Mexico’s 89 school districts thus far have registered for the funding, along with 54 charter schools, 16 non-public schools and four tribally controlled/Bureau of Indian Education schools.

Santa Fe Public Schools Public Information Officer Cody Dynarksi tells SFR via email that SFPS is “working on developing a plan we can roll out across the district” in order to participate in the Test to Stay program by Dec. 1.

“It’s a part of us moving forward with the goal we’ve had since the first day of school and that’s to provide in-person learning as much as we possibly can,” Steinhaus said. The testing versus quarantine option will also allow students to participate in extra-curricular activities.

The state’s most recent epidemiology report on pediatric cases shows that they have comprised 16.8% of all cases throughout the pandemic, but 25.2% in the last week. There have been 995 total cases in the schools, of which 770 have been among students.

“That is pretty manageable and better than other states are seeing,” Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said.

In terms of hospitalizations, there have been a total of 299 pediatric hospitalizations and none in the last week.

However, the state overall continues to struggle with high transmission rates and a high test positivity rate. According to the most recent report on community transmission, only two counties—Harding and Los Alamos—shifted from red to orange, indicating lower case rates per 100,000 and lower test positivity rates.

Scrase said counties’ case rates should be below 10 per 100,000 and test positivity rates should be below 7.5%; only Los Alamos County is meeting both of those criteria with 9.8 and 1.7%, respectively. Santa Fe County has a case rate of 20.9 cases per 100,000 daily and a test positivity rate of 4.53%. Statewide, the test positivity rate is at 9.9%.

New Mexico health officials today reported 1,166 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 279,670. DOH has designated 245,770 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 272 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 176 and Doña Ana County with 103. Santa Fe County had 47 new cases.

The state also announced 12 additional deaths, nine of them recent, including the 172nd from Santa Fe County; there have now been 5,085 fatalities statewide.

Scrase said deaths do appear to be hitting a plateau, as evidenced by the graph below.

Hospitalizations, however, remain problematic. As of today, 419 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, a 9.7% increase from yesterday.* Moreover, hospitals’ self-evaluations have hit an all-time high within the crisis standards of care metrics, based on problems meeting nearly all of the criteria, such as delays in care, capacity and sufficient staff.

“If you don’t feel like wearing a mask or getting vaccinated for yourself, it’s still a great thing to do to support our hospitals...and health care workers,” Scrase said.

Some assistance is coming, in terms of staff, Scrase said, with close to 200 health professionals arriving from out of state to be deployed as shown in the slide below. The additional staffing will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Scrase said.

“We are finally starting to see some relief from outside the state…other states have lesser caseloads and New Mexico stays high [so] we are able to take advantage of diverting some of the staff here,” he noted.

“The whole state is still pretty red,” Scrase said in conclusion of today’s update. “We are seeing spread everywhere...the virus is expert in a non-volitional way at spreading from person to person. Out of respect for our beleaguered health care system, where in many instances we have less resources than we do the people who need those resources, please be safe, please wear your mask—particularly indoors—please talk to your trusted health care person…about getting the vaccines and, if you haven’t gotten the booster yet, this would be a really good week to sign up.”

New cases

  • 272 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 5 new cases in Catron County
  • 36 new cases in Chaves County
  • 20 new cases in Cibola County
  • 13 new cases in Colfax County
  • 12 new cases in Curry County
  • 2 new cases in De Baca County
  • 103 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 24 new cases in Eddy County
  • 64 new cases in Grant County
  • 2 new cases in Guadalupe County
  • 12 new cases in Hidalgo County
  • 20 new cases in Lea County
  • 15 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 1 new case in Los Alamos County
  • 8 new cases in Luna County
  • 78 new cases in McKinley County
  • 1 new case in Mora County
  • 57 new cases in Otero County
  • 2 new cases in Quay County
  • 67 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 13 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 52 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 176 new cases in San Juan County
  • 8 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 47 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 5 new cases in Sierra County
  • 5 new cases in Socorro County
  • 9 new cases in Taos County
  • 6 new cases in Torrance County
  • 1 new case in Union County
  • 30 new cases in Valencia County

New fatalities

  • A female in her 70s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 70s from Cibola County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Curry County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 70s from Lea County who had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • A female in her 80s from Lea County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 80s from Roosevelt County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 80s from Sandoval County who underlying conditions
  • A male in his 50s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 40s from Sierra County who was hospitalized

Newly reported fatalities more than 30 days old

  • A female in her 50s from Cibola County who was hospitalized
  • A female in her 70s from Lea County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 60s from McKinley County who was hospitalized

According to DOH, COVID-related deaths are reported when a death certificate has been issued and some death certificates are delayed due to insufficient information.

Congregate facilities

The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:

  • Adobe Assisted Living in Las Cruces
  • Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
  • The Aristocrat Assisted Living Center in Las Cruces
  • Aspen Ridge Lodge Retirement in Los Alamos
  • Aztec Healthcare in Aztec
  • Beehive Homes of San Pedro in Albuquerque
  • Belen Meadows in Belen
  • Bellamah House in Albuquerque
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehab Center in Bloomfield
  • The Bridge of Farmington in Farmington
  • Calibre Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Camino Retirement Homes in Albuquerque
  • Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Care Free Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo
  • Casa de la Reina Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Casa Real Genesis in Santa Fe
  • Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
  • Crane’s Roost Care Home in Aztec
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • Fairwinds Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • Gingerich Home for the Elderly in Farmington
  • Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Good Samaritan Society - Las Cruces Village Las Cruces
  • Good Life Senior Living in Ruidoso
  • Haciendas at Grace Village in Las Cruces
  • Landmark at Desert Gardens in Hobbs
  • Las Cruces Post Acute and Rehabilitation Center of Cascadia (Welbrook Senior Living) in Las Cruces
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • Life Care Farmington
  • The Neighborhood Health Care in Rio Rancho
  • Palmilla Senior Living in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • Ramah Adult Care in Ramah
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • The Rio Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Sandia Ridge Genesis in Albuquerque
  • Seniorcare LLC - Raven House in Albuquerque
  • Sombrillo Nursing Home in Los Alamos
  • Sunny Day Assisted Living in Gallup
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • Village at Northrise - Desert Willow in Las Cruces
  • Village at Northrise - Morning Side in Las Cruces
  • Welbrook Transitional Rehabilitation in Farmington
  • Willow Manor Residential Care Center in Deming

Statewide cases

County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 77,628
  • Catron County: 230
  • Chaves County: 12,896
  • Cibola County: 3,748
  • Colfax County: 1,390
  • Curry County: 7,458
  • De Baca County: 257
  • Doña Ana County: 30,969
  • Eddy County: 11,039
  • Grant County: 2,856
  • Guadalupe County: 615
  • Harding County: 44
  • Hidalgo County: 597
  • Lea County: 13,667
  • Lincoln County: 3,063
  • Los Alamos County: 810
  • Luna County: 4,069
  • McKinley County: 15,345
  • Mora County: 380
  • Otero County: 7,075
  • Quay County: 1,052
  • Rio Arriba County: 5,103
  • Roosevelt County: 2,792
  • Sandoval County: 16,427
  • San Juan County: 22,482
  • San Miguel County: 2,668
  • Santa Fe County: 13,408
  • Sierra County: 1,096
  • Socorro County: 1,770
  • Taos County: 2,510
  • Torrance County: 1,447
  • Union County: 357
  • Valencia County: 9,433

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 548
  • Otero County Processing Center: 578
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 356

Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 334
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 257
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 765
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 178
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 130
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 473
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 224
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 229
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 235
  • Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 151
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 76

*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don’t include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.

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