Most older US people ready to take updated COVID-19 boosters

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Within weeks, updated COVID-19 vaccines could become available across the United States, offering protection against new variants of coronavirus.

Scientists from the University of Michigan found that 61% of people over 50 who have already gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are very likely to get an updated booster shot.

The virus has had an especially lethal impact on people over 65, as well as on Black adults over 50 and people with low incomes.

The team found that 68% of people in each of these groups who have had a COVID-19 vaccine in the past say they are very likely to get a COVID-19 booster this fall.

By comparison, a much lower percentage—55%—of people aged 50 to 64 with a past COVID-19 vaccine said they’re very likely to get a fall booster.

In addition to those who say they’re very likely to get a fall booster, about 1 in 5 adults over age 50 (21%) who had gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 in the past say they are somewhat likely to get a booster this fall.

But sizable percentages of some groups of previously vaccinated older adults said they won’t get a fall booster at all, including 23% of all adults aged 50 to 64, and 22% of all white respondents over age 50.

The poll was taken in late July for the National Poll on Healthy Aging, based at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

Before the poll was taken, vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna had reported favorable results from tests of the updated COVID vaccines.

But the U.S. government had yet not officially announced its strategy to buy millions of doses of the vaccines and make them available as soon as September if federal agencies approve and recommend them.

The new vaccine formulations aim to help the body recognize and fight off the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 forms of the virus.

With more than 84% of Americans now living in areas where these variants have driven COVID-19 community levels to medium or high, and are causing repeated infections, the reformulated boosters can’t come soon enough.

The team calls on her fellow health care providers—physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physician’s assistants—to start communicating to their patients now about the importance of getting a dose of one of the update boosters when they become available.

That’s because the poll finds that 77% of older adults say their provider’s recommendation about COVID-19 vaccination is very or somewhat important to their decision to get vaccinated.

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The research was conducted by Preeti Malani et al.

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