UW Health: Wisconsinites 65+ should stay up to date with COVID-19 booster doses

MADISON, Wis. — UW Health is urging people ages 65 and older to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and booster doses.

The health care provider said older people and the immunocompromized continue to have a higher risk of severe outcomes from the virus as vaccine protection wanes.

“Older individuals, unfortunately, have an immune system that doesn’t respond as well and doesn’t maintain its protection against pathogens like when they were younger,” Dr. Jim Conway, the medical director of UW Health’s immunization program, said. “This is one of the reasons we have special flu vaccines for people that are older that are a little bit higher potency to give their immune system a little bit of a kick. We’re not quite there yet with COVID vaccines, and so what people really need to do is keep up with boosters to keep reminding their immune system to stay strong and keep protecting them against new variants as they continue to show up and circulate in our community.”

Data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows that 85.3% of Wisconsin residents ages 65+ have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine and 82.7% have completed the initial series. The number of those ages 65 and older who have received at least one booster dose sits at 68.2% as of Thursday, about twice the number of the state average across age groups.

According to DHS, everyone ages 5 and up is eligible to receive one booster dose after finishing their primary vaccine series. Adults ages 50 and older, immunocompromised people who are 12 or older and those who received one primary dose and one booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a second booster.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interactive tool to help people determine when they can get booster doses; click here for more information.