The CDC recommends COVID-19 booster shots for everyone, but not everyone who needs them is getting them.
Skipping the Booster
Around 75% of people in the US skipped last year’s booster, and it doesn’t seem like things will be better this time.
According to Yale University’s epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves, urging people to get boosters has mainly worked for Democrats, college graduates, and those making over $90,000 a year.
As the effectiveness of 2021 vaccines has decreased over time, boosters have become crucial in protecting against severe COVID-19 and death, especially for older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
Important to Stop Spreading
They’re also important in places like prisons and nursing homes, where the virus can spread easily.
Boosters can also help reduce the disparities in COVID-19’s impact on different racial and ethnic groups.
However, the intense efforts that led to good vaccination rates in 2021 have slowed down.
This means that the people getting boosters now are often not the ones most at risk, which might not have a big impact on reducing COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Growing Numbers of Cases and Deaths
Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are increasing again, and COVID-19 is still a leading cause of death, with around 7,300 people dying from it in the past three months.
One challenge is that this round of COVID-19 vaccines isn’t fully covered by the government.
Insurers will provide them for free, but around 25-30 million uninsured adults, mainly low-income and people of color, don’t have an easy way to get vaccines without cost.
Cost a Main Issue
Cost is also an issue. Moderna and Pfizer raised the price of these boosters significantly, and this means higher healthcare costs.
Peter Maybarduk from Public Citizen says the government could have asked for price limits since they funded the vaccine research.
Both companies made billions from vaccine sales in 2021 and 2022 and expect to make more this year.
Maybarduk suggests that if the vaccine prices had stayed the same, there would be more funds available for fairness initiatives.
Blame Put Upon Misinformation
People choose not to get vaccinated for various reasons, including being far from vaccination sites and misinformation. Improving access to information and vaccines is essential.
Georges Benjamin from the American Public Health Association stressed the importance of data in tailoring outreach efforts.
He said that having updated data would help adapt outreach strategies more effectively. Without current data, we risk repeating the conditions that lead to healthcare inequalities.
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