Sadly not a big surprise. We could move this at the margins, but not as long as any part of government is in Republican control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends new covid-19 booster vaccines for all — but many who need them most won’t get them. About 75% of people in the United States appear to have skipped last year’s bivalent booster, and nothing suggests uptake will be better this time around.
“Urging people to get boosters has really only worked for Democrats, college graduates, and people making over $90,000 a year,” said Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at Yale University. “Those are the same people who will get this booster because it’s not like we’re doing anything differently to confront the inequities in place.”
As the effects of vaccines offered in 2021 have diminished over time, boosters have been shown to strongly protect people against severe covid and death, and more modestly prevent infection. They can have a dramatic impact on those most likely to die from covid, such as older adults and immunocompromised people. Public health experts say re-upping vaccination is also important for those in group housing, like prisons and nursing homes, where the virus can move swiftly between people in close quarters. A boost in protection is also needed to offset the persistent disparities in the toll of covid between racial and ethnic groups.
However, the intensive outreach efforts that successfully led to decent vaccination rates in 2021 have largely ended, along with mandates and the urgency of the moment. Data now suggests that the people getting booster doses are often not those most at risk, which means the toll of covid in the U.S. may not be dramatically reduced by this round of vaccines. Hospitalizations and deaths due to covid have risen in recent weeks, and covid remains a leading cause of death, with roughly 7,300 people dying of the disease in the past three months.
Tyler Winkelman, a health services researcher at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, said outreach of the intensity of 2021 is needed again. Back then, throngs of people were hired to tailor communication and education to various communities, and to administer vaccines in churches, homeless encampments, and stadiums. “We can still save lives if we are thoughtful about how we roll out the vaccines.”
Complicating matters, this is the first round of covid vaccines not fully covered by the federal government. Private and public health insurers will get them to members at no cost, but the situation for some 25 million-30 million uninsured adults — predominantly low-income people and people of color — is in flux. On Sept. 14, the CDC announced a kickoff of plans to temporarily provide vaccines for the uninsured, at least partly through $1.1 billion left over in pandemic emergency funds through the Bridge Access Program.
See here for some background. Cost is definitely an issue for many people, and there just won’t be the rollout of boosters in places like nursing homes and jails like there should be. Doing those things would require an appropriation of funds from the federal government, and I think we all know what that will mean. Some local and state governments can fill in some of the gap. The rest of us are on our own. And I would be extremely remiss if I didn’t mention that a lot of Republicans will not get the next COVID shot because a lot of Republican politicians are lying about COVID vaccinations for gross political reasons. Like I said, we are on our own. Get your shots and get your loved ones to get them. Wear a mask in indoor spaces as needed, too. And get a flu shot while you’re at it, flu season isn’t looking great either.