A New Covid Booster Is Here. Will Those at Greatest Risk Get It?

by | Sep 15, 2023 | Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends new covid-19 booster vaccines for all — but many who need them most won’t get them. About 75% of people in the United States appear to have skipped last year’s bivalent booster, and nothing suggests uptake will be better this time around.

“Urging people to get boosters has really only worked for Democrats, college graduates, and people making over $90,000 a year,” said Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at Yale University. “Those are the same people who will get this booster because it’s not like we’re doing anything differently to confront the inequities in place.”

As the effects of vaccines offered in 2021 have diminished over time, boosters have been shown to strongly protect people against severe covid and death, and more modestly prevent infection. They can have a dramatic impact on those most likely to die from covid, such as older adults and immunocompromised people. Public health experts say re-upping vaccination is also important for those in group housing, like prisons and nursing homes, where the virus can move swiftly between people in close quarters. A boost in protection is also needed to offset the persistent disparities in the toll of covid between racial and ethnic groups.

However, the intensive outreach efforts that successfully led to decent vaccination rates in 2021 have largely ended, along with mandates and the urgency of the moment. Data now suggests that the people getting booster doses are often not those most at risk, which means the toll of covid in the U.S. may not be dramatically reduced by this r …

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