A new poll asks: Why do some vaccinated people not get boosters?

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Seven in 10 adults in America who are likely eligible for a Covid booster have received one, according to a monthly survey that explores the public’s opinion about coronavirus vaccines.

“The uptake is very high compared to the initial vaccine rollout,” said Liz Hamel, who directs polling for the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducts the monthly assessment. She said that most of the people who had made a commitment to being vaccinated were willing to get a booster.

People 65 and older were most likely to report being boosted, the report found.

But among all adults surveyed, including the unvaccinated, only 42 percent said they were boosted.

“That means a very significant chunk of the population is not fully protected,” Ms. Hamel said.

The lag reflects a pervasive pandemic fatigue that emerged elsewhere in the Kaiser poll. More than three in four adults said they believed it was inevitable that most people in the United States will contract Covid. More people reported feeling worried about the impact of the Omicron variant on the economy and hospitals than on their personal health.

The poll was based on a telephone survey of 1,536 adults conducted from Jan. 11 to 23. Its booster rates are higher than those reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the C.D.C.’s data, about half of fully vaccinated adults in the country have received a booster.

The Kaiser survey also delved into the motivations behind people’s decisions around the booster. Among respondents who were vaccinated but not yet boosted, about 60 percent said that the Omicron variant had not made much of an impact either way on their decision whether to get the extra shot.

Since the initial booster rollout in November, Black and Hispanic adults have lagged behind white adults. But when unboosted people were asked whether they intended to get one, about 40 percent said they would as soon as possible, a view echoed equally across racial lines.

Those findings suggest that the racial gap may be due in part to lack of access, Ms. Hamel said.

Among surveyed adults who would “definitely not” or “only if required” get a booster, 22 percent said their chief reason was that they felt they didn’t need it or didn’t feel at risk from Covid. Another 19 percent said they didn’t feel that a booster would be effective, noting that vaccinated people are still coming down with Covid.

Conversely, among those not yet boosted but inclined to get the extra shot, the chief explanation they gave was pragmatic: Seventeen percent said they were not eligible because not enough time had passed since their last vaccine, and 12 percent said they had been too busy.

Political affinity remained a significant fault line along the vaccine divide. Among people who were vaccinated but had not gotten a booster, 58 percent of Democrats said they would get one as soon as they could, while only 18 percent of Republicans said they would. About half of vaccinated Republicans who were not yet boosted said they either would definitely not get one or would do so only if required.

But this month’s poll revealed a topic that managed to breach the partisan divide. When asked how they felt about the pandemic after nearly two years, Democrats, Independents and Republicans all gave two responses in equal and overwhelming numbers: “Tired” and “frustrated.”



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