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New Mexico urges flu, COVID immunization for children

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. New research announced by Pfizer showed vaccinating pregnant women helped protect their newborns from the common but scary respiratory virus that fills hospitals with wheezing babies each fall. (CDC via AP, File)

SANTA FE – State health officials are encouraging the immunization of children against flu and COVID-19 without making changes to its list of other vaccines required for school entry in the fall of 2023.

The New Mexico Department of Health announced Wednesday its school immunization requirements for the next school year. There were no changes to the list of mandatory immunizations for maladies including measles, mumps, tetanus, polio and chickenpox.

Immunization for flu, coronavirus and papillomavirus at appropriate ages are recommended but not required.

Health Department Secretary David Scrase says the agency has never required vaccinations for viral respiratory illnesses but is encouraging them based on an influx of young children getting sick with viruses including COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus. The influx of patients is straining hospital pediatric units.

“Vaccinating children against flu and COVID-19 would help prevent disease spread, severe illness and long-term complications in children,” Scrase said in a statement.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, usually results in mild, cold-like symptoms and can cause severe breathing problems for babies.

A state vaccine advisory committee typically convenes once a year to discuss requirements for the upcoming school year. It met Nov. 3.