New Mexico’s definition of “fully vaccinated” could change to cover only those who have had three COVID-19 shots, the governor and top state health officials said Wednesday.

Such a move would reflect concerns that vaccines begin to lose their effectiveness after about six months, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. She suggested New Mexico’s success at getting residents vaccinated early could therefore be responsible for recent high case numbers; on Wednesday, the state reported 1,530 new infections.

The Department of Health also reported Wednesday that 539 people were in the hospital statewide with COVID-19 complications. That’s the highest number of such hospitalizations since January 2020, acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said.

“I want folks to get their boosters,” Lujan Grisham said, noting losing one’s immunity to the coronavirus puts unvaccinated or younger people at risk. She departed Wednesday’s two-hour virtual news conference before a question-and-answer media session.

Data from the state Department of Health shows vaccination numbers are slowly rising, with 18 percent of adults in New Mexico — more than 292,000 residents 18 and older — having received a booster by Wednesday.

Nearly 74 percent of adult residents have had at least two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson version, while 55.3 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 have completed the first series. The state continues to roll out inoculations for children ages 5 to 11; 7.9 percent have received an initial dose.

Still, the governor warned COVID-19 cases are spiking in the West as the holiday season approaches.

“Think about smaller gatherings,” she said. “If you’re in a warmer community, think of being outside for Thanksgiving. If you can wear your masks except for when eating, do that.”

Dr. Christine Ross, the state epidemiologist, urged those who aren’t fully vaccinated to get tested before and after holiday travel.

“COVID can masquerade as many different things, so without a test, it’s very difficult to know if you have COVID-19 or not,” she said.

Colder weather’s arrival — Thursday’s forecast low in Santa Fe is 30 degrees — is sending people indoors and creating what Lujan Grisham called a “high-risk ecosystem.”

Scrase was optimistic about emerging antiviral pills, saying the federal government has told the state they’d be available to distribute by the end of this month, but “we’ll see if it holds.”

Scrase said he receives long, less-than-pleasant emails from skeptics, some of whom say Arizona has fewer cases than New Mexico despite not having a statewide mask mandate.

“It’s a complete misunderstanding of what it means to fight disease and to fight a pandemic,” he said.

“It isn’t that masks don’t work,” he added. “We know masks work. We know that if no one wore a mask, we’d have way, way more cases than we have today.”

(19) comments

Rob Wilson

One of the problems is the masks are not only useless but dangerous. Think people, must people are reusing the disposables or not cleaning the reusables. Plus the masks have gaps where air can go around the mask. We would be much better off with plastic gloves.

Randy DeVinney

Great idea! Vaccines are not working so let’s require more. Keep changing the rules.

Angel Ortiz

As usual, most are trying to make this a political issue. That just reflects how ignorance is also an issue today. Don't expect the Governor to hold your hand. Be an adult, visit your doctor, get medical advice, get your vaccine. It is going to be another long winter.

Mike Johnson

And as usual the head biased, partisan politician in NM is in charge of doing everything and explaining everything, is it any wonder so many found this to be a political issue? Because it is.

Nancy Lockland

This is a contradicting comment. Be an adult, DO WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT FOR YOU. Get vaccinated or don't, it's no ones business

Angel Ortiz

Thanks Nancy. It's a virus. I've had my vaccines and my arm is not magnetic and I'm sure the government didn't inject me with a microchip. I'm doing what I have to do to be responsible. It's simple logic and respect. Two things that seem to have disappeared during the pandemic. As usual you and Mike are offering words od encouragement.

Mike Johnson

Yes, and soon they will "discover" you need another, and another, so that MLG's dictatorial powers will never end.

Mike Peterson


Sabine Strohem

@mike you're embarrassing yourself now.

Richard Reinders

Moving the goal post to three is going to discourage the 20% that are just thinking about getting the first shot now. Mandates and moving standards are going to create more resistance, because that 20% will never be able to be current so why get first shots. The handling of this mandate could not be more harmful.

Robert Kowalski

Until the governor says a booster a year. So what about those who got the J&J? They need 2 boosters?

Sabine Strohem

@Robert do you get that this is COMMON in vaccine development? The Hep series was originally the hep vaccine. Then it was two, then it was three. There's a reason the word "booster" is in your vocabulary. Sometimes they are needed. The governor doesn't control this. She's not scheming something nefarious. There's no grand conspiracy theory. There's just real world data that comes over time.

Richard Reinders

Its not the fact that you need three of four or five but the message and strong arming, when you eliminate a persons ability to travel go to restaurants or events because he doesn't have the 3rd shot stamp although his last shot was 3 months ago you will create resentment.

Barry Rabkin

It's the virus that should create resentment. It's the idiocy of people who don't understand that gathering in large groups or in small spaces (such as restaurants or stores that can't accommodate the required spacing) that should create resentment. It's the mutations of the virus that should cause resentment. Covid-19 has changed our lives and our society: get vaccinated and realize that until epidemiologists can find a vaccine that mitigates the virus and its potential mutations that normal ain't returning.

Sabine Strohem

@Richard what restaurants can you not go to?

Sabine Strohem

@Richard: has ANYONE said you'd need a third shot if your second was 3 months ago? (answer: NO)

Barry Rabkin

Exactly correct !!!! Our Governor is striving to save lives, not have our healthcare system overwhelmed, and reduce the number of infections to this global health pandemic of a highly infectious virus.

Richard Reinders

There is two ways to get it done one way is more effective than the other, I am not antivaxer, but good leaders have followers some enthusiastically and some with reservation but followers none the less, when you use a sledge hammer you don’t always get the results you want.

Mike Johnson

Well said Richard, and especially when that sledge hammer of draconian edicts is determined and promoted by a left wing politician many people do not trust to do anything that isn't partisan and political.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.