UPDATED 12:56 PM PT – Friday, November 18, 2022
Officials have announced that COVID-19 booster shots are going unused by a wide margin across the country. This has sparked mass concern over the possibility of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surging again this winter.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 10% of people, about 30 million, aged five and older have received the updated bivalent shots.
The new bivalent boosters, which target two Omicron subvariants as well as the original viral strain, were purchased by the federal government in dosages totaling more than 170 million.
While uptake has been consistently minimal for children, older people are largely avoiding the new shots. Reports have showed that only 27% of those aged 65 and older have received the latest dose.
According to some public health experts, a lack of outreach and the wrong kind of messaging from health officials are contributing to the delayed uptake of the modified booster. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University, made a statement about the issue.
“Anecdotally, it sounds like a lot of people are still not aware that the bivalent boosters are available,” Rasmussen said. “If they are, many don’t seem to understand the importance of getting boosted at all—with bivalent or original recipe—and there is a decided lack of urgency in communications about it.”
If people received the updated boosters at the same rate as the yearly flu shot it is estimated that up to 100,000 hospitalizations may be averted and 9,000 lives could be spared this winter.