US Covid booster rates are shockingly low

Very few people have received the updated Covid boosters that were released nationwide in September, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Little more than seven per cent of adults and two per cent of children had gotten the shot by 14 October, the numbers show.

The new findings were recently presented to scientific advisers at the CDC, per The New York Times.

Americans, in large part, also ignored the vaccine that rolled out last fall: Only a quarter of US adults got the bivalent booster that was made available in September 2022, according to data from KFF, a health policy research group.

According to a poll from KFF released in September, about half of adults in the country said they would likely get the new vaccine: 23 per cent said they would definitely get the shot, while 23 per cent said they probably would. About 33 per cent of participants said they definitely wouldn’t, and 19 per cent said they probably wouldn’t.

The CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have both said the shot is safe for everyone six months and up.

Deaths from Covid have risen in October, per the latest data from the CDC. From 15 October to 21 October, deaths rose 12.5 per cent. During that same time frame, there were 16,186 hospitalisations from the virus, and the national test positivity rate was 8.7 per cent. Less than 1.5 per cent of emergency department visits during that time were due to Covid.

The CDC also recently warned of the potential of another “tripledemic”, in which cases of influenza, Covid, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), all peak at the same time. Experts said the agency’s projections for the winter months were cause for concern. “When a disease is endemic, it means that the levels are mostly predictable. So it’s nice to see the CDC putting out their predictions this fall,” Dr Ellie Murray, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, tweeted in response to the outlook. “[On the other hand], it’s not so nice that their best case scenario is almost twice as many respiratory hospitalizations as pre-COVID.”

During last year’s tripledemic, the peaks of the three viruses overlapped, causing chaos in emergency care centres. RSV, in particular, took a massive toll on children—at one point, every single paediatric hospital bed in the state of Rhode Island was full, according to reporting from NBC News.

Experts have said it will be vital for Americans to stay up-to-date on all vaccines this fall and winter. This is especially true for those who are at high risk of severe disease from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes illness with Covid-19, such as pregnant people, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.

CDC Director Dr Mandy Cohen has said vaccination is among the best ways to keep yourself safe during the colder weather months when respiratory viruses tend to circulate.

In a statement released on 12 September, when the CDC officially recommended the updated Covid vaccine, she said, “We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19. CDC is now recommending [the vaccine] to better protect you and your loved ones.”