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13 Reasons Patients Give for Not Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster

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Reasons for not getting a COVID-19 booster ranged from worry about taking time off to believing it won't add any additional protection from infection.

If your patients have been slow to get COVID-19 booster shots, here are some of the prevailing reasons why.

In a new study, researchers noted bivalent boosters were recommended for every aged 12 years and older since September 2022. That expanded to all people aged 6 months and older as of December last year.

But as of May 2023, fewer that 20% of eligible people had received updated boosters. That’s a “critical public health challenge,” study authors wrote in “Understanding low COVID-19 booster uptake among US adults,” published in the journal Vaccine.

In February and March 2023, researchers led by the University of Arizona Cancer Center surveyed 2196 adults who had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The poll asked the question: “Have you received the updated (bivalent, omicron) mRNA booster from Pfizer or Moderna?”

Among them, 1637, or 74.5%, had received the booster, but 559 did not. To explain why, participants could select one or multiple answers, or write in their own. Responses fell into 3 groups:

  • Knowledge about the bivalent vaccine
  • Risks or benefits were not clear
  • Logistic concerns

“Interventions to improve vaccination rates require a variety of approaches,” the study said. A good start is to consider the top reasons why some participants opted not to get their COVID-19 booster.


Source: Jacobs ET, Cordova-Marks FM, Farland LV, et al. Understanding low COVID-19 booster uptake among US adults. Vaccine. 2023;41(6):6221-6226. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.08.080


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