The CDC recommends COVID-19 booster shots for everyone, but not everyone who needs them is getting them.
75% of People Skipped Boosters
Around 75% of people in the U.S. skipped last year’s booster, and it doesn’t seem like things will be better this time.
According to Yale University’s epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves, urging people to get boosters has mainly worked for Democrats, college graduates, and those making over $90,000 a year.
Boosters Are Becoming Crucial
As the effectiveness of 2021 vaccines has decreased over time, boosters have become crucial in protecting against severe COVID-19 and death, especially for older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
The Virus Can Spread Easily
They’re also important in places like prisons and nursing homes, where the virus can spread easily.
Boosters can also help reduce the disparities in COVID-19’s impact on different racial and ethnic groups.
People Getting Boosters Aren’t at Risk
However, the intense efforts that led to good vaccination rates in 2021 have slowed down.
This means that the people getting boosters now are often not the ones most at risk, which might not have a big impact on reducing COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Deaths Are Increasing Again
Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are increasing again, and COVID-19 is still a leading cause of death, with around 7,300 people dying from it in the past three months.
New Booster Isn’t Fully Covered
One challenge is that this round of COVID-19 vaccines isn’t fully covered by the government.
Insurers will provide them for free, but around 25-30 million uninsured adults, mainly low-income and people of color, don’t have an easy way to get vaccines without cost.
Big Pharma Raised the Prices
Cost is also an issue. Moderna and Pfizer raised the price of these boosters significantly, and this means higher healthcare costs.
There Should Have Been a Price Limit
Peter Maybarduk from Public Citizen says the government could have asked for price limits since they funded the vaccine research.
The Companies Made Billions
Both companies made billions from vaccine sales in 2021 and 2022 and expect to make more this year.
The Funds Are Limited
Maybarduk suggests that if the vaccine prices had stayed the same, there would be more funds available for fairness initiatives.
Information About Vaccines Is Crucial
People choose not to get vaccinated for various reasons, including being far from vaccination sites and misinformation. Improving access to information and vaccines is essential.
People Need to See Data
Georges Benjamin from the American Public Health Association stressed the importance of data in tailoring outreach efforts.
The Risk Without Data
He said that having updated data would help adapt outreach strategies more effectively. Without current data, we risk repeating the conditions that lead to healthcare inequalities.
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