COVID Boosters See More Vaccine Hesitancy Than Flu & RSV Shots

Still, vaccine hesitancy is uncommon among adults who are most at risk for serious illness from COVID, flu, or RSV this season, KFF data showed.

The new COVID-19 booster has decent traction among adults, but many still harbor more vaccine hesitancy and safety concerns for the shot than they do for other vaccinations like the flu and RSV shots, according to KFF data.

In the latest COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, KFF found that 46 percent of adults over age 18 would definitely or probably get the latest COVID-19 booster. Intentions to get vaccinated were more common among adults over age 65, Hispanic adults, Democrats, and individuals who have already received COVID-19 vaccination.

These figures come as the US public health system hunkers down for what could be a tripledemic of COVID, flu, and RSV. When peak seasons for each of those illnesses align, it can stress the nation’s hospitals to disastrous effect, KFF pointed out.

Each of those illnesses does have a vaccine that should stave off at least serious illness in most adults. And the good news this year is that many adults seem likely to get those shots.

More than half (58 percent) of adults said they will get a flu shot this year. This includes some adults who have already received a flu shot, KFF clarified.

Intentions to get the flu shot are more common among adults over age 65, who are at increased risk of serious illness from the flu. Three-quarters of older adults said they’d get the flu shot. Meanwhile, 58 percent of those over age 60 said they would definitely or probably get the new RSV shot that has been recommended for that age group.

Enthusiasm for the latest COVID booster is less common, however. Just under half (47 percent) of adults said they plan to get the most updated COVID-19 vaccine, which the CDC recommended on September 12 when the KFF poll was still being fielded.

Six in 10 people who were previously vaccinated against COVID said they would get the updated shots, but 37 percent said they probably or definitely will not, rounding out to 27 percent of previously vaccinated folks declining to get the update.

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of those who have never gotten a COVID-19 vaccine said they won’t start now. Just 5 percent said they’d get the new vaccine. This means that, in total, a quarter of all adults in the US have never gotten a COVID shot and never plan to do so. It is more common for Republicans to demonstrate COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy than Democrats, the KFF poll showed.

Populations more at risk for getting seriously sick from COVID-19 said they’d get the shots, with 64 percent of adults over age 65, 56 percent of those with a serious health condition, 54 percent of Hispanic people, and 51 percent of Black people saying they’d get the new jab. This all compares to 42 percent of White adults who said they’d get the newly approved booster.

But although intended vaccine uptake is sizeable for adults, the KFF poll showed the boosters likely won’t gain traction in kids. That is unsurprising, considering the lag pediatric vaccination has had compared to adult uptake. Six in ten parents of teenagers, 64 percent of parents with kids ages five to 11, and 66 percent of parents with kids ages six months to four years said they’d decline to get their child boosted.

It is more common for teens to have some sort of vaccine-derived immunity; 14 percent of parents with teenaged kids noted that their children previously received COVID-19 vaccines, but that they wouldn’t get this booster. This is different for younger kids, most of whom never got a COVID-19 vaccine and won’t be getting the booster.

Concerns about safety are likely at play, a similar trend as in adult populations. While parents demonstrate confidence in the safety of the flu vaccine (68 percent) and RSV vaccine (63 percent), only 48 percent said they’re confident the new COVID booster is safe.

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