‘A need in our community’: PHMDC seeing high demand for COVID-19 booster shots

MADISON, Wis. — Public health officials have seen high demand for COVID-19 vaccines since booster shots were approved for all adults earlier this month.

Public Health Supervisor Sarah Huges said the recent approval, combined with the emergence of the Omicron variant and the approaching holidays, has led to continued demand for boosters.

Between the daily scheduled appointments and walk-ins, Public Health Madison & Dane County has roughly 225-250 vaccination appointments per day at the Alliant Energy Center vaccination site, according to Hughes. When looking at appointment availability three weeks out, Hughes said only an estimated 50 appointment slots were still available.

RELATED: CDC backs booster shot for all adults due to omicron variant

Demand isn’t expected to dwindle anytime soon, either. That’s why PHMDC is working to figure out a plan to make sure vaccine doses are available for the whole community.

Hughes said public health officials are considering a number of options, including continued operations at the Alliant vaccination site and an increased focus on mobile clinics.

“We know that people are going to continue to be looking for boosters especially now that everyone 18 and older is eligible for a booster,” Hughes said. “So we know that that’s a need in our community.”

In the meantime, Hughes recommended residents looking to get their booster — or their first or second vaccine dose — use the CDC’s online vaccine finder tool to find open appointments nearby.

While searching for an appointment without immediate success can be frustrating, Hughes said public health officials are viewing the shortage of appointments as a good thing.

As of Tuesday, 75.7% of Dane County residents had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 72.6% of residents had completed their vaccine series, according to Wisconsin Department of Health Services data. (DHS has not yet provided data about the number of kids ages 5-11 who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.)

“I think we have just been really encouraged that the demand has been so high. That’s great,” Hughes said. “Dane County residents continue to show that they are pro-vaccine and are willing to do what they need to do to keep our community safe.”

RELATED: Will you need three shots to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ in Wisconsin?

The Alliant Energy Center vaccine clinic is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pharmacies throughout the area, including Walgreens, CVS, Hy-Vee and Wal-Mart, have varying availability for vaccine appointments.