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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services supports the recommendation that 16 and 17-year-olds receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after having received their second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“The approval of the Pfizer vaccine booster dose for 16 and 17-year-olds provides another opportunity for more Wisconsinites to get additional protection from COVID-19,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said. “The COVID-19 booster doses are important tools as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Being fully vaccinated and getting a booster dose is the best protection for preventing the worst outcomes from COVID-19. We encourage everyone ages 16 and older to join the more than 1.2 million Wisconsinites who have already gotten their booster or additional COVID-19 vaccine dose.”

This recommendation supplements the previous Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that anyone 18 and older receive a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after the completion of their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine primary series and two months after the single Johnson & Johnson dose. 

The previous CDC recommendation allows for mix-and-match dosing for booster doses for those 18 and older. At this time, the Pfizer vaccine booster dose is the only one recommended for 16- and 17-year-olds.

“We have identified several cases of the omicron variant in Wisconsin, and we are seeing continuing high levels of disease across our state. These trends are important reminders that getting vaccinated is critically important and that getting a booster dose provides even more protection,” Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist for DHS, said. “We must prevent further strain on Wisconsin’s health care system and long-term care providers. The longer there are large populations of people who are unvaccinated, the greater the risk that people who need care will not be able to get it.”

As of Dec. 4, one case of the omicron variant had been identified in a specimen from a Wisconsin resident with recent travel history to South Africa. The omicron variant, B.1.1.529, was classified as a variant of concern by the CDC on Nov. 30. Variants are classified as variants of concern if they show evidence of being more contagious, causing more severe illness or resistance to diagnostics, treatments or vaccines.

“We’ve been prepared for this news and will continue trusting the science to help keep Wisconsinites and our communities healthy and safe,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “Now is the time to double down on our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the omicron variant. I urge all eligible Wisconsinites to get vaccinated and receive a booster dose as soon as possible and to follow the latest public health guidance.”

DHS and CDC strongly recommend that everyone that is eligible to get a booster should get one as soon as possible. The booster dose can strengthen and extend their protection against infection, serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The best protection against any variant of COVID-19, is to get fully vaccinated and get a booster dose.

With the record high-level of disease transmission in Wisconsin, DHS continues to urge everyone who is not vaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and for all people to add additional layers of protection including masking up indoors, staying home when feeling sick and avoiding large indoor gatherings.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider in your community, visit vaccines.gov or call 211 or 877-947-2211. For additional information about booster doses, additional doses, and help accessing your COVID-19 vaccine record to determine when you may be recommended for a booster visit the DHS Additional Doses and Booster Doses webpage.

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