Title of a News Article: Study Identifies Reasons for Low Uptake of COVID-19 Boosters in the US
In September 2022, new bivalent COVID-19 boosters became available in the United States, but less than 20% of the eligible population ultimately received one. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health aimed to understand why so many Americans did not receive a booster. The study’s findings were published in the journal Vaccine.
According to the study, there is a need for more public and healthcare provider education regarding the importance of staying up to date on COVID-19 boosters. Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the Zuckerman College of Public Health and the first author of the study, along with Kristen Pogreba-Brown, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of epidemiology, led the research.
The study found that nearly 40% of survey participants did not get a booster shot due to a prior infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The second most common reason was concern about vaccine side effects (31.5%), followed by the belief that the booster would not provide additional protection over the vaccines already received (28.6%) or protect from SARS-CoV-2 infection (23.1%). The reasons provided varied based on characteristics such as age, ethnicity, and education, suggesting the need for diverse strategies to improve vaccination rates.
The research was conducted through the Arizona CoVHORT, a longitudinal study launched in May 2020 to track the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection among Arizonans. The researchers sent a questionnaire to CoVHORT participants to determine if they had received the booster and, if not, the reasons for not doing so.
As the next COVID-19 booster rolls out this fall, the study’s investigators hope that these findings can be used to design interventions that ensure more individuals are protected from the latest SARS-CoV-2 variants. It is crucial to educate people about the additional protection boosters provide, even if they have already been infected, and the waning effectiveness of prior boosters due to new variants, especially as we approach the fall and winter seasons.
The Arizona CoVHORT study, in collaboration with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is continuing to enroll participants to study the prevalence and symptoms of long COVID.