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New COVID-19 vaccines should start arriving in Wisconsin this week

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

This week, the FDA and CDC approved new, updated COVID-19 vaccines.

The number of COVID cases has gone up in recent weeks in Wisconsin.

The new vaccines are meant to better target the strains of the virus that are circulating right now.

“The data showing that the benefit of COVID-19 vaccines among people 65 And older is overwhelmingly strong that if we can get most or all people in that age group, immunized, we're going to save a lot of lives,” Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the Chief Medical Officer of the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

Westergaard says the data is less clear on severe cases of COVID in younger populations.

Still, the CDC recommends the new vaccines for everyone 6 months and older because it believes there is still a benefit.

Short of hospitalization and death that occur in younger people are a severe cold and also long COVID symptoms,” said Westergaard. “They've reviewed a lot of data showing that long COVID occurs frequently and it occurs in all age groups. There's good reason to believe that the vaccine can prevent symptoms of long COVID.”

Death from COVID has become more rare, but it is still happening.

More than 16,000 Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Health officials are still learning more about the long-term effects of contracting the virus.

“We've learned during the pandemic that a subset of people will continue to feel unwell, and those things can be fatigue, trouble sleeping, mental fogginess, difficulty concentrating symptoms that resemble chronic fatigue syndrome, the how frequently these happens, or they're all over the map, but it's not rare,” said Westergaard referring to long COVID.

There’s no standard treatment for Long COVID.

The best thing you can do is avoid getting COVID-19 infection.

The current strain of COVID is related to the Omicron variant that was around last year.

Westergaard says there’s a major difference between it and the Delta variant we experienced at the height of the pandemic.

“This variant, the Omicron and all of its relatives, is highly contagious, can cause cold symptoms, can cause early transmission to other people in the household, and close contacts early in the course of illness, sometimes, even before people have symptoms, but tends to have less severe disease on average, compared to the Delta variant,” he said.

Doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccine will start arriving in Wisconsin within the coming days and will continue to be delivered over the next several weeks.

Health centers, clinics, and pharmacies are expected to make appointments available as their doses arrive.

You can search for a place to get the vaccine at vaccines.gov.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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