Millions of people in the U.S. have already gotten an updated COVID-19 booster shot after the new doses were made available about one month ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Now a new poll highlights how many more people want to get a modified jab, or are not planning on it, after 7.6 million have rolled up their sleeves to do so, according to CDC data.
Two-thirds of adults in the U.S., 67%, are hesitant to get the new vaccine doses, based on their answers recorded in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll published Sept. 30.
Meanwhile, roughly one-third of adults, 32%, say they have already received the new booster or will do so “as soon as possible,” according to the survey.
The bivalent vaccine doses made by Pfizer and Moderna target two offshoot versions of the omicron variant currently spreading: the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the new boosters for emergency use on Aug. 31.
Of the 67% of adults hesitant on getting the new boosters, 18% answered they will “wait and see” before getting an updated dose, 10% will do so “only if required,” 12% will “not get updated,” and 27% are not eligible because they are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, according to the poll.
About 5% of adults surveyed already received an updated COVID-19 booster shot and 27% plan to “as soon as possible,” the poll found.
The poll surveyed 1,534 adults between Sept. 15 and 26 with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The answers come as the omicron BA.5 subvariant continues to dominate COVID-19 cases, according to CDC data estimates. BA.5 made up 81.3% of cases for the week ending Oct. 1.
However, the omicron BA.4 subvariant has made up fewer cases in the past several weeks, CDC data shows. BA.4 made up 1.1% of cases the week ending Oct. 1.
Since the updated boosters were authorized by the FDA, newer omicron subvariants have gained prevalence in recent weeks in the U.S., according to the CDC. This includes BA.4.6 and BF.7 subvariants, which are not targeted by the new shots.
Who needs an updated booster?
The CDC advises those eligible to “stay up to date” with their COVID-19 vaccines.
“Bivalent boosters help restore protection that might have gone down since your last dose,” the agency says. As of Sept. 28, the weekly average of COVID-19 cases dropped by 13%, according to the CDC.
Individuals 12 and older are eligible to receive Pfizer’s updated booster at least two months after their second vaccine dose or booster shot, according to the CDC. Those 18 and older are eligible for Moderna’s under the same conditions.
The new shots were authorized as booster doses only. This means that the doses do not replace the original vaccines for the first two shots. Anyone unvaccinated has to get a primary vaccine series before they can get a new booster shot.
For those currently infected and recently infected with COVID-19, the CDC says they can “consider delaying any COVID-19 vaccination, including bivalent booster vaccination, by 3 months from symptom onset or positive test.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s poll found that half of U.S. adults have either heard “a lot” or “some” about the updated boosters. In contrast, half of adults surveyed heard “a little” or “nothing at all” about the modified doses.
Dr. William Gruber, senior vice president of Pfizer Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, previously told McClatchy News that the original COVID-19 vaccines, which are considered monovalent, “still provide great protection against severe disease for a period of time.”
However, “protection was beginning to erode for milder illness — illness that would still take people to the doctor and still keep them out of work and still create risk for spreading in the community,” he said. “In order to manage that, it was important to update the vaccine.”