More than 6 in 10 vaccinated Americans now say they would get an additional COVID-19 booster shot if it were available to them, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.
The survey of 1,715 U.S. adults, which was conducted from July 13 to 15, found that a full 62 percent of those who’ve been vaccinated would receive another jab if possible, while just 18 percent would decline. Another 20 percent are not sure.
The emerging interest in COVID boosters comes as the hyper-contagious Delta variant drives a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” in state after state, and as the virus’s accelerating spread among unvaccinated Americans occasionally spills over into the vaccinated population in the form of “breakthrough cases.”
While the approved vaccines still offer near-complete protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from Delta — more than 99 percent of those who’ve died from COVID this year were unvaccinated — the variant’s transmissibility and ability to dodge at least some immune defenses recently prompted Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, to announce they will seek authorization for a third dose from the Food and Drug Administration, even though U.S. officials and the World Health Organization both say there is not enough evidence to prove that boosters are necessary yet.
Israel is dispensing third doses of the Pfizer vaccine to transplant recipients and other patients with weak immune systems. Britain has announced a plan to administer booster shots beginning in September. Yet vaccine experts say it will be some time before most people need an additional dose.
"There's no evidence right now that the general population needs a booster dose because we're not seeing evidence of waning immunity or substantially reduced effectiveness against the Delta variant," William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Politico. "I think for most people, outside those special populations, the immunocompromised and maybe the elderly — I think most people's immunity is going to last years, to be honest."
When posing the question to poll respondents, Yahoo News and YouGov noted that the current information on boosters is conflicting and inconclusive, and that “public-health authorities have not recommended” them yet. Nearly two-thirds of vaccinated Americans still say they would get another dose.
That eagerness likely reflects growing concerns about Delta. Awareness of the variant has become almost universal, with 85 percent of Americans now saying they have heard of it (up from 73 percent four weeks ago) and 57 percent saying they are “very” or “somewhat” worried about it (up from 49 percent). Tellingly, more Americans now say they are worried about Delta (again, 57 percent) than about the coronavirus generally (50 percent).
But those worries are not distributed equally across the U.S. population. In fact, vaccinated Americans (the ones who have the least to fear from Delta) are far more worried about the variant than unvaccinated Americans (the ones who have the most cause for concern).
While 85 percent of vaccinated Americans say Delta poses a "serious risk" to either "all Americans" (32 percent) or "unvaccinated Americans" (53 percent), for instance, only half of unvaccinated Americans (50 percent) say the same, with just 17 percent specifying that it's the unvaccinated who are at risk. Another 30 percent of the unvaccinated, meanwhile, say Delta "doesn’t pose a serious risk to any Americans.”
Paradoxically, then, a full 77 percent of vaccinated Americans are worried about the spread of Delta — yet just 51 percent of unvaccinated Americans share their concern. Likewise, a mere 18 percent of unvaccinated Americans say they plan to protect themselves from Delta and other variants by getting vaccinated in the future — less than a third of the share of vaccinated Americans who say they want an additional layer of protection from a yet-to-be-approved booster shot.
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,715 U.S. adults interviewed online from July 13 to 15, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or non-vote), and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.7 percent.
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