May 4, 2022 – Over half of practicing U.S. doctors are prepared to recommend a second COVID-19 booster shot for eligible patients, even though only 36% of doctors believe that current evidence supports that fourth dose, a recent survey shows.

Medscape polling shows that 56% of 1,636 practicing doctors who believe in the COVID-19 vaccine support a second vaccine booster for certain groups of people, while 17% said they would not recommend it, and 27% were unsure as of April 4–13, 2022, when data were collected.

Similar results emerged from 287 practicing nurses and advanced practice nurses (APNs) who believe in the COVID-19 vaccine: 55% would recommend a fourth shot, 15% would not, and 30% were unsure.

photo of physician poll

Support for the science behind a second booster, however, was not as strong, with the largest share of the 1,908 total doctors who responded, 41%, believing that current evidence is not yet sufficient. Just 36% of the doctors think that the data back a second booster, and 23% are still unsure, according to the survey results.

An equal proportion of the 385 total nurses and APNs surveyed (36%) agreed with the current evidence for a fourth shot, but their dissent was somewhat lower (35%), and uncertainty was slightly higher (29%).

General Public Poll Results

Support for a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine was not particularly strong among those who might end up on the other end of the syringe, based on data from 743 members of the general population surveyed April 7–13, 2022, by WebMD.

Although a majority of the people who had already been vaccinated or planned to get vaccinated said that they were very likely (44%) or somewhat likely (16%) to get the second booster when they were eligible, 25% said they were not at all likely, and 14% were unsure. This survey question, however, excluded the 23% of people who took the survey who said that they had no plans to get vaccinated.

photo of consumer poll

Age made a significant difference in people’s chances of getting a second dose, with 52% of those aged 45 years and older saying that it was very likely, vs 37% of those younger than 45. The situation reversed for "not-at-all-likely" responses: 32% for people younger than 45, and 18% for those 45 and older.

Three percent of the 743 people who took the survey were partially vaccinated, 27% were fully vaccinated, 40% were fully vaccinated and had received one booster, 7% were fully vaccinated and had received two boosters, and 1% were unvaccinated but planned to get their shots, which leaves the 23% with no plans to get vaccinated mentioned before. Men were significantly more likely than women (26% vs 18%) to have no plans to get vaccinated.

A Question of Confidence

Both surveys asked people whether their confidence in the vaccine would be affected by the recommendation of an additional booster.

Almost half of doctors (49%) and 44% of nurses/APNs said that their confidence would not be affected, vs 26% of the general public.

Distribution of the other possible responses was similar among the three groups:

  • Positive affected: physicians, 17%; nurses/APNs, 19%; general public, 19%
  • Negatively affected: physicians, 24%; nurses/APNs, 24%; general public, 24%
  • Unsure: physicians, 10%; nurses/APNs, 14%; general public, 10%

Another 21% of the general public, it should be noted, chose a response that only 26 doctors and eight nurses took: "I don't believe in the COVID-19 vaccine."