When will third COVID-19 vaccine booster shots be available for everyone in Wisconsin?

Madison doctors explain why that isn't necessarily urgent, as local cases climb ahead of Thanksgiving

FILE - A patient waits to be called for a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot outside a pharmacy in a grocery store, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in downtown Denver. Infection rates have soared in Colorado over the past month, and Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, to expand the use of booster shots to quell the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

MADISON, Wis.– A growing number of states are now offering COVID-19 booster shots to anyone who wants one, and the country’s top doctors say these shots shouldn’t be considered a luxury, but a necessity.

In Wisconsin, however, they’re not available for everyone.

The state’s Department of Health Services is currently following CDC guidance recommending boosters for people 65 and older, those living with underlying medical conditions and those working high-risk jobs.

As a frontline healthcare worker, UW Health’s Dr. Jeff Pothof became eligible in September.

“I had my booster within three days of it being approved,” he told News 3 Now. Pothof was among the first wave of people vaccinated, receiving his first doses in December of 2020.

Another health care professional, SSM Health’s Mo Kharbat, recently received his booster, at a pop-up clinic last week.

“We started mobile events in schools where we offer the COVID vaccine to children,” Kharbat said. “But we also offer booster doses to teachers, health care workers, and other people who qualify.”

Qualify is the key word, but Kharbat explains that covers more people than you may think.

“Anyone who has hypertension, diabetes, or any form of illness qualifies. If they’re overweight or obese, they qualify. Any patient with any type of health condition qualifies,” he said.

Because of that, Kharbat says he’s not sure Wisconsin needs to follow suit and make boosters available to everyone before the holidays, although he does recommend them to everyone who does qualify, six months after their first doses.

RELATED: Wisconsin records nearly 4K new COVID-19 cases, highest total since Dec. 2020

“I am a little bummed out by this most recent trend,” Pothof said. “Cases are going up and we don’t fully understand why. I think part of it is that people are further along on their vaccinations and part of it is people are going indoors.”

“But I am hopeful,” he added. “Sooner or later, I think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Both SSM and UW Health doctors say you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a booster shot appointment or simply walking in to get one.

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