DHS: Boosters only eligible for people who got Pfizer vaccine, don't mix manufacturers

DHS: Boosters only eligible for people who got Pfizer vaccine, don’t mix manufacturers

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- State health leaders said the Pfizer booster shots add another layer of protection for people who are eligible.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services gave the green light for vaccinators to administer boosters to certain populations. Stephanie Schauer, the Division of Public Health immunization program manager, and Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases, held a media briefing on Thursday, Sept. 30 to answer questions about booster shots.

Department leaders said boosters provide another tool to help slow the spread of the Delta variant. Wisconsin has a network of more than 2,400 vaccine providers who are able to administer Pfizer booster shots.

"It's important to note that the vaccine that is for the booster -- it's the same vaccine whether you're giving the primary series or the booster: the same vial, the same dosage," Schauer said.

There are two categories of people who are eligible: people who should get a booster and people who may get a booster shot. 

People aged 65 and older, people in long-term care and people between the ages of 50 and 64 with certain underlying medical conditions should get a booster shot. People between the ages of 18 and 49 with certain underlying medical conditions and essential workers may get a booster shot.

They can get the booster six months after their second dose of Pfizer. Boosters are not currently recommended for people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

"More data will be coming. Those decisions will be revisited in the future, but as of right now, there's no recommendation to give booster doses unless the primary series was the Pfizer," Westergaard said.

Vaccinators are required to report booster doses into the Wisconsin Immunization Registry. Westergaard said the department has seen people mixing vaccine manufacturers.

"It is not recommended or not allowed to mix vaccine doses, with one exception," Westergaard said.

The exception Westergaard mentioned is 3 percent of the population that is severely immunocompromised, such as people going through cancer treatments or organ transplants. 

Westergaard said what is even more important than getting a booster is getting the initial vaccine.

"Priority No. 1: strongest recommendation coming from us today is that if someone has not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19 at all, getting vaccinated is extremely important," Westergaard said.

To find the Pfizer vaccine near you, go to vaccines.gov.

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