NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Acceptance of the new COVID bivalent vaccine has not been as strong as health experts had hoped with those who are eligible and now health professionals are seeing a new and very contagious variant very close to Connecticut.

Only 4% of those 12 and up who are eligible have received the bivalent booster, which is seen as a major tool in preventing another fall COVID surge.

“Generally, we see uptake the highest in the early stages of the new release as the kind of people who are eager to get it, get it. So a bit concerning with the rollout here,” says Yale Medicine Physician F. Perry Wilson.

Dr. Wilson says that the framing needs to be different around the new bivalent booster, the first one to target the omicron variant, which is highly contagious and still dominant.

“I got the vaccine with my annual flu shot. I got them both at the same time. And I think people need to understand that’s the cadence we’re probably going to be in for the next few years.”

Annual COVID shots with the flu shot looks like the new normal for the future.

And now there is a new COVID variant.

“There’s a particular variant called BA2.75.2. I know that’s a lot of numbers, but it’s growing nationwide, outpacing a little BA.5, which has been the dominant variant,” explains Dr. Wilson, who points out it’s nearby.

“It’s particularly prevalent in New York, which often forms the epicenter for new variant growth. And, of course, just right adjacent to Connecticut. So keep a close eye on that one as people are coming closer inside and the weather gets cooler.”

There is something positive about the variant’s emergence.

“There’s a good reason to think the vaccines will continue to be effective. In fact, it’s an omicron sub-variant, which is, again, what the newly updated vaccine is targeting.”