Just Over 1% of People in U.S. Got COVID Shots in September

2 min read

Oct. 5, 2023 – About 4 million people in the U.S. got the new COVID-19 vaccine in September.

The federal government “has been working directly with manufacturers and distributors to ensure that the vaccines are getting to pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and other vaccination sites, including long-term care facilities as quickly as possible," a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told the news agency Reuters in an email.

The 4 million shots given through Sept. 30 is twice the number reported by Health and Human Services last month.

The updated vaccines were approved by the CDC on Sept. 12 but weren’t available in many places until about a week later. The rollout has been hampered by distribution problems and erroneous rejections of insurance coverage, the latter of which has mostly been resolved. 

During a similar time period last year, about 4.4 million people got updated COVID vaccines. For all of 2022, nearly 56.5 million people got an updated COVID vaccine, which equals about 17% of the U.S. population, CDC data shows.

Based on a U.S. population of 335 million, about 1.2% of people have gotten the updated COVID shot so far this year.

Public health officials have been hopeful for a strong public reception to calls for a seasonal COVID vaccine similar to the long-standing recommendation that people get a flu shot in the fall. Like the flu shot approach, the vaccine is updated annually to target strains of the virus predicted to be widely circulating through the fall and winter. So far this year, about 10% of adults surveyed by the CDC said they have already gotten this year’s flu shot as of Sept. 16.

After a summertime surge, COVID is receding across the U.S., although it is still circulating more widely than the flu.

COVID-19 currently accounts for just below 2% of emergency department visits, 19,000 weekly hospital admissions, and nearly 3% of all U.S. deaths, according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. Fall typically signals the start of respiratory illness season, and the current rate of positive COVID tests reported to the CDC is 11.6%, while the rate of positive flu tests is 1%.

The federal website vaccines.gov helps people find nearby appointments to get vaccines for COVID-19, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).