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Those eligible weigh timing of second COVID booster that is now available in Wisconsin

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

With the state averaging between 315 and 360 cases a day last week and counties in the Northwoods experiencing low COVID-19 community levels, we are definitely experiencing a lull in coronavirus cases.

Though it’s hard to say how long that will last.

Oneida County Health Department Director Linda Conlon says it’s hard to say how the COVID variant BA.2 that’s making its way through Europe will impact the U.S.

“There’s many factors that come into play with BA.2. Those factors are vaccination rate, natural immunity when is BA2 circulating amongst all of us. If it’s at a time people still have high immunity from vaccines and high immunity from natural infection. BA.2 won’t get a hold of us and spread as quickly,” said Conlon.

To help strengthen the immunity of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its variants, a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose is now available for people 18 and older who are immunocompromised and for anyone 50 years and older.

You have to wait at least four months after getting your last booster to get the second one.

Conlon encourages people who are immunocompromised to get their booster right away.

For people who are 50 and older and otherwise healthy, when you get your booster may depend on your lifestyle.

“Many people are choosing to get it now, right away. I think people are making a decision based on their lifestyle and based on what is happening with COVID right now,” said Conlon.

She said some people are choosing now, others are waiting until the fall before flu season sets in, and others are waiting to see what happens with the virus.

Conlon and other health officials strongly encourage people to get their first booster if they haven’t already done.

While more than 62% of people in Oneida County are considered fully vaccinated, fewer than 37% have gotten a booster dose.

During the recent Omicron surge, those who were boosted were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated, and 7 times less likely to be hospitalized.

“We do recommend that everybody get a booster shot to boost their immunity. We’re not out of the woods yet and it’s likely that we won’t be for a long time. We don’t know what the future holds,” said Conlon.

Things like the vaccines, masks, and social distancing are still important tools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

But Conlon says it’s okay to be vigilant and also give yourself a break.

“COVID is not over yet, we still have to be a little bit weary of what may happen in the future and still be prepared because we don’t want to be caught off guard. We all need that break. We all need to be aware that we have some ability to let loose as you will, but we still have to be cognizant and look at the future and realize COVID is still circulating,” said Conlon.

There are still several community COVID testing sites throughout the county.

You can find one near you on the Oneida County Health Department website.

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