Dec. 18, 2022 – The percentage of people in the U.S. getting the latest COVID-19 booster shot has crept up by single digits in the past couple months, despite health officials pleading for people to do so before the Christmas holiday.
Now, a new poll shows why so few people are willing to roll up their sleeves again.
The most common reasons people give for not getting the latest booster shot is that they “don’t think they need one” (44%) and they “don’t think the benefits are worth it” (37%), according to poll results out this week from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The data comes amid announcements by the CDC that boosters reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations by up to 57% for U.S. adults and by up to 84% for people age 65 and older. Those figures are just the latest in a mountain of research reporting the public health benefits of COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite all of the statistical data, health officials’ recent vaccination campaigns have proven far from compelling.
So far, just 15% of people age 12 and older have gotten the latest booster, and 36% of people age 65 and older have gotten it, the CDC’s vaccination tracker shows.
Since the start of the pandemic, 1.1 million people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, with the number of deaths currently rising by 400 per day, The New York Times COVID tracker shows.
Many experts continue to note the need for everyone to get booster shots regularly, but some advocate that perhaps a change in strategy is in order.
“What the administration should do is push for vaccinating people in high-risk groups, including those who are older, those who are immunocompromised and those who have comorbidities,” Paul Offitt, MD, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN.
Federal regulators have announced they will meet Jan. 26 with a panel of vaccine advisors to examine the current recommended vaccination schedule as well as look at the effectiveness and composition of current vaccines and boosters, with an eye toward the make-up of next-generation shots.
Vaccines are the “best available protection” against hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19, said Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement announcing the planned meeting.
“Since the initial authorizations of these vaccines, we have learned that protection wanes over time, especially as the virus rapidly mutates and new variants and subvariants emerge,” he said. “Therefore, it’s important to continue discussions about the optimal composition of COVID-19 vaccines for primary and booster vaccination, as well as the optimal interval for booster vaccination.”