COVID Vaccine Uptake Is Steady, But Analysts Aren’t Sold

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Oct. 2, 2023 – An estimated 1.8 million people in the U.S. got a COVID-19 vaccine during the week ending Sept. 22, according to the news agency Reuters. That rate is similar to vaccine uptake at a similar point during the fall COVID vaccine campaign last year.

There have been widespread distribution challenges, causing appointment delays and thousands of erroneous rejections of insurance coverage since the CDC recommended the shots starting Sept. 12. Around 1 million people got a Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 shot, and nearly 800,000 people got Moderna’s version of the vaccine during the week ending Sept. 22, Reuters reported, citing data from the health care data and analytics firm IQVIA Holdings Inc.

Federal officials said late last week that 2 million people in the U.S. had already gotten the shots, although it wasn’t clear what the cutoff date was for that count. Public health officials said at the time that 6 million shots had been shipped to pharmacies. 

Last season, about 56.5 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, got a booster shot, CDC data shows.

Vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna have said demand may be lower. Pfizer warned it may cut jobs, depending on how widely people choose to get the updated vaccine, and Moderna estimated demand may be around 50 million doses, Reuters reported.

"Does this point to COVID vaccines doing 50 million doses annually in the U.S.? I doubt it," Umer Raffat, MS, an analyst for the firm Evercore ISI, wrote in a research note about the IQVIA data, Reuters reported. "But conversely, it also says this market is not completely over."

The new booster is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older. 

Nationwide, the rate of positive COVID tests reported to the CDC dipped by a percentage point recently, with a 12% positive test rate for the week of Sept. 17 to Sept. 23, according to the CDC. Nearly 2% of all emergency department visits were due to COVID during that week, and the hospitalization rate then was down 3%, with 19,079 people newly admitted. 

Nationwide, 1.1 million people have died and 6.4 million people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in 2020.