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Uptake of new COVID-19 booster slow so far, data shows

A man getting covid vaccine at a drive thru station with a health care professional. Closeup of nurse applying plaster after injection, treatment or booster shot, staying safe from illness
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Uptake of the new COVID-19 booster has underwhelmed.

News brief

The second COVID-19 booster has been out for about a month, but uptake has been underwhelming.

Less than 8 million people have received the COVID-19 bivalent booster shot nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s less than 3% of the eligible U.S. population, which is those who are 12 years and older and have been fully vaccinated.

“Americans aren’t really running out to get the new booster,” said Luuna Lopes, a senior survey analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation vaccine survey showed that about a third of adults had either received the booster or planned to get it as soon as possible. 39% of surveyed adults said they would not get the vaccine or are ineligible to get it since they are not fully vaccinated.

“It seems like a lot of people have kind of moved on and are kind of getting back to their normal pre-pandemic activities,” Lopes said. “One of the factors here might just be that people just don't see the virus as big of a threat.”

The survey also revealed a lack of public awareness about the booster. About half of adults surveyed said they'd heard a little or nothing at all about the booster. Two in five surveyed adults were not even sure if the vaccine is for them.

“As a population, as we've gone through the last two and a half years of COVID, there has been so much information coming out all the time,” said Dr. Amy Duckro, an infectious disease doctor with Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “And now as we're starting to emerge from these cocoons of safety and we're getting back into the community, there are probably… a little bit less motivation or inspiration to keep COVID in the forefront.”

Booster uptake is higher among adults who are 65 and older, as they're more likely to hear about the booster and receive it, according to Lopes.

While corresponding state-level data across the Mountain West is unavailable, Colorado officials report that, as of Oct. 1, more than 6% of eligible Coloradans had received the new booster, more than twice the national average.

Duckro said that people are tired of COVID, but the booster is important to keep it in check.

“This is the passport for us to move forward,” Duckro said. “It's an ongoing strategy for us to develop immunity so that we are not having surges, we're not having severe disease, we're not having friends or family members in the intensive care unit.”

To find a pharmacy or clinic offering the booster near you, visit vaccines.gov.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I'm the Mountain West Reporter for KUNC, here to inform you of all the latest news affecting the Mountain West region. From new legislation to climate patterns to invasive species, I'll research what is happening in your backyard—as well as the backyards of neighboring states—and share those stories with you as you go about your day.