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New Mexico State Fair vaccine mandate spurs concern

August 18, 2021 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some are calling a requirement for everyone attending the upcoming New Mexico State Fair to show proof of vaccination anything but fair.

The mandate was announced Tuesday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as part of a new public health order that also requires health care workers and others to get vaccinated within a certain period of time or risk losing their jobs. A statewide mask mandate for all public indoor spaces also was reinstated.

An official with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association said the vaccine requirement for the state fair comes with short notice and may cost some juniors a year of work if they can’t get vaccinated in time and aren’t allowed to exhibit and sell their animals.

Cliff Copeland, the association’s northeast regional vice president, said the governor’s office had given no indication through the summer months that a COVID-19 vaccination would be required to participate at the fair, which begins Sept. 9.

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“These exhibitors may not be able to financially afford livestock projects next year if not allowed to show and sell these animals at the current state fair,” he said. “There is hardly enough time to become vaccinated and meet the requirements because of the late announcement.”

He said the requirement also potentially affects the buyers at the junior livestock sale and even the judges already under contract if they are not vaccinated.

Under the order, nearly everyone eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine must show proof of being fully vaccinated to enter the fairgrounds. There are limited exemptions — for medical, disability or religious reasons — to the state’s policy.

State officials contend the policy will help to protect children under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.