Up to four times more Americans plan to dodge the updated Covid booster vaccine this fall compared to last year, despite White House guidance that everyone get the new vaccine.
Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation in California found that a majority of adults — 52 percent — said they “definitely” or “probably” would not get the new shot.
By comparison, last year only 12 percent of respondents surveyed said they would “definitely” not get that year’s booster. Another 18 percent said they would “wait and see.”
Among parents, 66 percent said they would not let their children get the shot this winter — compared to 50 percent who said they would avoid the bivalent shot last year.
The updated Covid shots have again been recommended for everyone over six months of age, despite there being little evidence that younger adults and children will benefit from them.
Figures from last year show that as many as 115 million bivalent Covid booster vaccines were lost, costing the federal government billions. Although this year the costs will be borne by health insurers.
A poll from the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation found a majority of Americans do not plan to get the updated Covid booster vaccine this year. The red dotted line above shows the 50 percent margin
The results showed that those who were over 65 and voted Democrat were the most likely to receive the vaccine. By comparison, younger adults — who were at much lower risk of severe disease — were less likely to get vaccinated
Most parents say they will not get the updated Covid booster vaccine for their children
Last year, just 12 percent of American adults said they did not plan to get the updated Covid booster vaccine and 50 percent of parents said they would not ask their children to get the shot.
The KFF survey was conducted late last month and involved a nationally representative sample of 1,300 adults. It happened in both English and Spanish.
A total of 33 per cent of adults said they would ‘definitely’ not get the updated vaccine – while 19 per cent said they would ‘probably’ not get it.
Less than a quarter, or 23 percent, said they would “probably” get the chance and another 23 percent said they would “definitely” sign up for it.
Those who were over 65 and voted Democrat were the most likely to get the vaccine, the results showed.
But adults in younger age groups — who are at lower risk for severe Covid — and who voted Republican were less likely to say they would get the vaccine. In terms of age, those least likely to receive the vaccine were between 18 and 29 years old.
Of those previously vaccinated, almost four in 10 said they did not plan to get the shot this year.
The study also looked at vaccines against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza. It showed that many more adults planned to get both shots, compared to those who reported they would get the Covid vaccine.
Of respondents, 58 percent said they had already gotten the flu shot or were planning to do so.
And for vaccinations against RSV, 60 percent of adults 60 and older said they would get the new vaccine.
This year marks the first ever that a vaccine against RSV – a respiratory disease – has been made available to adults over the age of 60 after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Arexvy shot for use.
RSV kills 10,000 adults annually, according to estimates, mostly older adults. By comparison, the flu kills 52,000 people.
This year’s updated Covid boosters, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna, use mRNA to protect against variants that were circulating over the summer.
The new variants EG.5 and BA.2.86 have sparked concern in recent months due to evidence that they are the most contagious yet, with EG.5 currently dominant in the US.
The updated vaccines target XBB.1.5 variants – which now only occur in a small proportion of cases – but tests show they should still provide protection against currently circulating strains.
The CDC has recommended the shot for everyone six months and older, although a top FDA adviser said it was only necessary for people 75 and older.
Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician, previously told DailyMail.com that younger adults did not need the vaccine because they were already at low risk of severe disease.
And almost all Americans now have some degree of immunity to Covid, either through vaccination or previous infection.
Last month’s Covid wave – which caused alarm – also appears to be receding after previously causing alarm.
The study also looked at the rollout of flu and RSV shots this winter. It showed that most adults planned to get the flu shot
They also found that the majority of adults planned to get the RSV vaccine this year
Official data showed there were 19,079 Covid hospital admissions nationally in the week ending September 23, a three per cent drop on the previous week.
The number was also well below this year’s peak of 44,400 admissions in January.
The positivity rate – the proportion of Covid tests that detect the virus – has also fallen by one per cent in a week, falling to 11.6 per cent in the week ending September 23.
The number of fatalities fell to 607 in the same week from 1,005 the week before.
Unlike last year, the federal government is not covering these new Covid boosters, but is passing the costs on to health insurers.
Last year’s updated booster effort cost the Biden administration $4.5 billion, estimates show, with 171 million doses purchased.
But CDC data shows that only 56 million of these were ever administered — and the remaining 115 million, at a cost of $3.05 billion — were thrown away.
The cost estimates are based on a March 2023 report suggesting that the 105 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine were sold to the government for $30.48 per dose, while the 66 million Moderna shots were sold for $26.36 dollars per dose.
But since the rollout began this year, many people have been coming forward saying they’re having trouble getting appointments or having to pay up to $200 out of pocket for the vaccine.
Among those affected is Eric Allix Rogers, 38, of Chicago, who ended up paying $155.99 for his updated Covid vaccine after the pharmacy said his insurance plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield, would not cover the shot.
Some signing up for a Covid-19 vaccination have already faced roadblocks, including costs, despite the fact that the vaccine should be covered by health insurance
Mr Rogers decided to pay – rather than wait for the plan to be updated – because he had a bad bout of Covid in 2021 and didn’t want to take the risk.
“We’re being told to move to treating Covid as a routine issue, and yet the people responsible for medical care haven’t figured out how to treat it as a routine issue,” he told the WashingtonPost.
“This wasn’t supposed to be complicated.”
There are also supply delays, leaving hundreds of people on waiting lists at some clinics.
America is an international outlier in recommending Covid boosters for younger age groups, while other countries previously only offered them to older adults.
But doctors in the US say the recommendation has to do with the country’s healthcare model, with the blanket recommendation needed to ensure health insurers cover costs.
By comparison, Britain is only rolling out the updated Covid booster to adults aged 65 and over – saying they are the group most at risk of serious illness.
Last year, the CDC also recommended the Covid bivalent booster for everyone six months and older.