MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is urging Wisconsinites to get an updated COVID-19 booster vaccination and their annual flu shot ahead of the upcoming holiday season. People can safely get their COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines at the same time, including the annual flu vaccine. Everyone age 5 and older is now eligible for an updated COVID-19 booster.
This expanded eligibility for the updated COVID-19 boosters follows authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Previously the updated COVID-19 boosters were recommended for those 12 and older.
Doses of the updated COVID-19 boosters for the newly eligible age groups are expected to arrive in Wisconsin over the next several weeks. Pharmacies, health centers, and clinics are continuing to make appointments available as their booster doses arrive. Parents and guardians are encouraged to check with their primary care provider, local or tribal health department or clinics, or visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites near them.
“Fall has arrived and the holiday season will soon be here, and this means more of us will gather indoors in homes and other spaces in closer contact with others. We encourage all Wisconsinites to make plans to boost their own and their loved ones’ protection against COVID-19,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Everyone 5 and older is now eligible for the updated boosters. This means nearly all school-age children, as well as adolescents and adults, can boost their body’s defenses against COVID-19 to help prevent the most severe symptoms of COVID-19 and reduce the spread.”
The updated COVID-19 boosters target the original strain of COVID-19, as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants. The highly contagious BA.5 Omicron subvariant makes up about 90% of cases nationally.
The updated boosters are recommended as a single dose for people 5 and older who have received their primary COVID-19 vaccine series and have not received a COVID-19 vaccine dose in the last two months. People 5 and older are eligible to receive the updated Pfizer COVID-19 booster, and those 6 and older are eligible to receive the updated Moderna COVID-19 booster. For all age groups, these updated boosters replace the original boosters. The Pfizer and Moderna updated boosters can be administered after any primary series, including Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or Novavax.
“Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines can protect kids against the serious outcomes of COVID-19 such as MIS-C, long COVID, hospitalization, and death,” said Stephanie Schauer, Ph.D., DHS Division of Public Health Immunization Program Manager. “Now that everyone 5 and older is eligible for updated boosters, it means that even more people can get restored protection against the virus as well as broader protection against newer variants.”
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 disease that can cause the heart, lungs, brain, and other organs to become inflamed. DHS data show there have been 200 cases of MIS-C and one MIS-C related death reported in Wisconsin. For the best protection against MIS-C, children should stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get their primary series vaccination to protect against COVID-19. If you have not yet received your primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, it is never too late to get vaccinated. Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations by getting vaccinated and boosted, when eligible, is especially important for people 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised.
COVID-19 vaccination is still available with no out-of-pocket cost. Anyone can schedule an appointment for the vaccine. Vaccination sites across Wisconsin may choose to provide vaccines to specific age groups. People are encouraged to check with their local health clinics or visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites for specific age groups.
For free, confidential support finding health care and community resources near you, dial 211. For information, resources, and data related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination program in Wisconsin, visit the DHS COVID-19: Vaccine webpage. You can also follow @DHSWI on Facebook, Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram for more information on COVID-19.