Over the past few weeks, federal health advisers have pored over data on booster doses for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and balked at setting recommendations as to who—if anyone—should get a third shot. In the midst of his deliberations, he constantly meditated on an indisputable truth that had lingered on his hands: No matter what he recommended, the booster would have minimal impact on the pandemic. Instead, the way to end this curse is to benefit as many people as possible. First shot.
After much debate on Friday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dismissed the agency’s independent advisors. The director opened the boosters to health workers and others at high risk, in addition to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.
And today, new survey data suggests that offering any boosters could prevent some people from getting their first highly effective COVID-19 vaccine. A total of 71 percent said that the booster dose showed that the vaccine was not working as promised. Survey results published Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
Dividing the uninfected further: Of those who said they planned to “wait and see” before getting the shot, 69 percent said boosters showed the vaccines weren’t working as promised. Those who didn’t get the vaccine said they “definitely wouldn’t” get a shot, with 82 percent saying the same. In contrast, of those who have already been vaccinated, 78 percent said that the use of booster doses “shows that scientists are finding ways to make vaccines more effective.”
The results are likely to be bitter to experts who are torn about the use of booster doses at the moment. On the one hand, for some people, especially older adults, protection from COVID-19 vaccination appears to be diminishing. In others, a booster dose may reduce the risk of infection and transmission between delta increases. But that advanced protection may not last long, perhaps only a few months. Meanwhile, for most people, the primary series of two doses is still providing a high level of protection against serious illness and death – the main purpose of vaccination.
Even CDC Director Rochelle Valensky, who expanded booster recommendations on the advice of experts, notes minimal benefits. “I want to be clear,” she said at a White House press briefing last week, “we will not push our way out of this pandemic. Infections among uninfected people continue to increase this pandemic, resulting in The number of cases is increasing, hospitalizations, and deaths where people have not been vaccinated.”
Additionally, many experts argue that the third vaccine dose used in the US would save more lives if they were used as the first dose in low- and middle-income countries. Many low-income countries have not been able to access vaccine supplies and even protect their frontline workers and the most vulnerable.
death and politics
Another potentially discouraging wrinkle in the survey is that direct experience of fear and pain appears to be the biggest motivator for unvaccinated people to roll up their sleeves. Addressing only vaccinated people after 1 juneThe KFF survey found that 39 percent said a major reason for vaccination was the rise in delta cases. Additionally, 38 percent said that reports of filling local hospitals and intensive care units were a major reason. And 36 percent reported that knowing someone who became seriously ill or died of COVID-19 was a major factor in getting vaccinated. when asked whether Important The factor was in their decision to vaccinate, with the most common reason – with 14 percent of respondents – knowing someone who became seriously ill or died of COVID-19.
As of June 1, there were already 33 million cases of COVID-19 in the US, killing about 596,000 people. Since then, nearly 91,000 more people have died from COVID-19 – deaths that almost all could have been prevented with vaccines.
In addition to the fear and anguish, vaccination mandates and requirements appeared to be somewhat helpful in getting people to get their shots. Among those recently vaccinated, 35 percent said that vaccination requirements to participate in certain activities, such as going to the gym, a sporting event, or traveling were a major factor in deciding to be vaccinated.
Of those currently unvaccinated, about 34 percent said they would likely get a lot or some degree of the vaccine if their employer required the shots. An additional 15 percent said they would be “very unlikely” to need an employer to get vaccinated, while 50 percent responded “absolutely unlikely.” If their employer opted to receive weekly testing instead of the required vaccine, 56 percent of non-vaccinated people say they would opt for the test.
Currently, about 75 percent of those eligible for vaccination (people 12 years of age and older) are vaccinated with at least one dose. About 65 percent are fully vaccinated. According to the survey, the groups with the lowest vaccination rates are: uninsured people under the age of 65, Republicans, rural residents, white evangelical Christians, people ages 30 to 49, and adults without college degrees.
At this point, equal shares of Hispanic (73 percent), Black (70 percent), and White (71 percent) adults have received at least one dose. The biggest remaining difference in vaccination rates is partisan, KFF notes, with 90 percent of Democrats reporting at least one dose, compared to only 58 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents.