WISCONSIN — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said it wants people around the state to get boosted against COVID-19.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, called bivalent boosters, are available for people 12 years old and older. Wisconsin DHS said the boosters have started to come in and will be distributed to providers over the next several weeks.

The updated boosters were both authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The updated boosters are the first omicron-specific vaccines available in the United States, targeting both the original strain of COVID-19 and the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

AP Photo

DHS said the BA.5 subvariant makes up about 90% of COVID-19 cases nationwide.

“As we head into the fall and winter respiratory virus season, we encourage all Wisconsinites to make a plan to boost their protection against COVID-19,” said DHS secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Everyone 12 and older is eligible for the added protection of the updated boosters. This is especially important for people 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised.”

Anyone 12-years-old and older is eligible for the updated Pfizer COVID-19 booster. Anyone 18-years-old and older is eligible for the updated Moderna COVID-19 booster.

The updated booster is recommended for anyone who is 12-years-old and older who has had their primary COVID-19 vaccine series and has not received a COVID-19 vaccine dose in the last two months. The updated booster is a single dose shot.

The Pfizer and Moderna updated boosters can be “mixed” with any primary series. That means, either the Pfizer or Moderna updated booster is safe for anyone who received a Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Novavax primary series.

The updated booster replaces the original COVID-19 booster for anyone 12-years-old and older, according to Wisconsin DHS.

“Getting vaccinated and staying up to date on COVID-19 boosters remains the best way to protect against severe illness from COVID-19,” said Stephanie Schauer, Ph.D., DHS division of public health immunization program manager. “COVID-19 vaccines continue to show that they are effective at reducing severe symptoms that can result in hospitalization and death. The updated boosters can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination or infection, and provide broader protection against newer variants.”

Wisconsin DHS said kids ages five to 11 are eligible for the original COVID-19 booster. Health officials said that age group may be eligible for the updated booster within a few months.

The DHS said it recommends anyone age six months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine can be safely given with other vaccines, including flu vaccines.