Experts concerned COVID-19 booster shots will hurt efforts to reach th…

Experts concerned COVID-19 booster shots will hurt efforts to reach th…

The spread of COVID-19 vaccination requirements across the U.S. hasn’t had the desired effect so far, with the number of Americans getting their first shots plunging in recent weeks. And some experts worry that the move to dispense boosters could just make matters worse.

The fear is that the rollout of booster shots will rule some people to question the effectiveness of the vaccine in the first place.

“Many of my patients are already saying, `If we need a third measure, what was the point?”’ said Dr. Jason Goldman, a physician in Coral Springs, Florida.

Read more: COVID-19 booster shots could rake in billions for some vaccine makers

The average daily count of Americans getting a first measure of vaccine has been falling for six weeks, plummeting more than 50 per cent from about 480,000 in early August to under 230,000 by the middle of last week, according to the most recently obtainable federal data.

Story continues below advertisement

An estimated 70 million vaccine-eligible Americans have in addition to start vaccinations, despite a summer surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths pushed by the delta variant.

This is the case despite a growing number of businesses announcing vaccination requirements for their employees, including Google, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Disney. Also, big cities such as New York and San Francisco are demanding people be vaccinated to eat at restaurants or go into certain other businesses.

Separately, President Joe Biden announced sweeping new vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans on Sept. 9. Employees at businesses with more than 100 people on the payroll will have to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. But the mandates have in addition to go into effect; the necessary regulations are nevertheless being drawn up.

2:08Should we be concerned about ‘waning immunity’? Should we be concerned about ‘waning immunity’?

Allie French, of Omaha, Nebraska, said the move toward booster shots only strengthened her strong belief that vaccinations aren’t necessary, particularly for people who take care of themselves.

Story continues below advertisement

“It comes back to a mindset of not needing your hand held by every situation,” said French, founder of the advocacy group Nebraskans Against Government Overreach.

Experts have long said the meaningful to ending the U.S. epidemic is vaccinating the great majority of the American public — perhaps as much as 90 per cent. But of the more than 283 million Americans age 12 and older who are eligible for shots, only about 65 per cent — 184 million — are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Children under 12 are not in addition eligible to get vaccinated, meaning only about 55 per cent of the U.S. public is fully protected.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday that health officials have not lost sight of that problem. The booster effort “will not distract us from our most important focus — to get as many people as possible vaccinated with a dominant series,” she said.

Read more: U.S. backs Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots. Should Canada do the same?

White House officials said they doubt the need for boosters is a real concern among the great majority of the unvaccinated, who for a variety of reasons, including misinformation, have continued to resist getting their shots despite nearly a year’s worth of data showing their lifesaving possible.

They argue, too, that as the pool of unvaccinated Americans little by little shrinks, there will be declines in the numbers of new people getting shots. They say the latest numbers should not be read as a sign that mandates aren’t working, noting that most businesses haven’t in addition put in place the Biden administration’s vaccinate-or-test policy.

Story continues below advertisement

Indeed, despite the downward vaccination trends seen in CDC data, they say there is evidence employer mandates are already working. White House officials cited a number of success stories, including strong increases in the percentage of vaccinated employees at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, United Airlines and the Defense Department.

Noel Brewer, a University of North Carolina professor of health behaviour, said the mandates show potential and there is good reason to be optimistic.

1:01CDC director says withholding access to 3rd COVID-19 shot for people in high-risk settings would ‘worsen inequalities’ CDC director says withholding access to 3rd COVID-19 shot for people in high-risk settings would ‘worsen inequalities’

“I think we’re heading into a great season for vaccinations. Everything is lining up in a good way,” said Brewer, who advises the CDC and the World Health Organization on COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC empowered booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for tens of millions of Americans who are 65 and older, have inner health conditions or work in jobs that put them at high risk. The additional measure would be given six months after the two-shot regimen.

Story continues below advertisement

Regulators have in addition to take up the question of booster shots for people who got the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

More than 400,000 Americans got boosters at drugstores over the weekend, and 1 million more have signed up for them, according to White House officials.

Read more: U.S. President Joe Biden receives COVID-19 booster shot following CDC backing

But some members of an expert panel that advises the CDC worried last week that the booster discussion was a distraction from the more pressing need to get more Americans vaccinated.

“We have a very effective vaccine, and it’s like saying, `It’s not working,”’ said Dr. Pablo Sanchez of Ohio State University.

At that meeting, a CDC official presented unpublished data from a recent 1,000-person survey that suggested that offering boosters would make 25 per cent of unvaccinated Americans much less likely to get a shot. This week, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll of more than 1,500 adults found that 71 per cent of the unvaccinated say the recent news about boosters is a sign that the vaccines aren’t working.

Some outside experts saw this coming.

3:32Immunocompromised offered vaccine booster shot. Who is eligible? Immunocompromised offered vaccine booster shot. Who is eligible? – Sep 14, 2021

Dr. James Conway, a paediatric infectious diseases expert at the University of Wisconsin, said last week that if vaccine-hesitant people “start to get the idea that this is only going to last for six or eight or 10 months,” they may be further soured on the whole idea.

Story continues below advertisement

Scientists have emphasized that the vaccine remains highly effective against serious illness and death from COVID-19, noting that the unvaccinated explain the great majority of the dead and hospitalized recently. But experts have also seen signs that the vaccine’s protection may be slipping, and they want to get out ahead of the problem.

Meanwhile, the pandemic’s summer surge has shown signs of easing. Deaths are nevertheless running high at over 2,000 a day on average, but situations and hospitalizations are trending down.

Read more: Ontario giving 3rd COVID-19 vaccine measure to high-risk people. What about other provinces?

While any ebb in COVID-19’s toll is welcome, it also may undercut health officials’ effort to instill a sense of urgency in the unvaccinated. That could be a difficult task already when situations were exploding.

Dr. Alex Jahangir, director of orthopaedic trauma surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the head of a coronavirus task force in Nashville, Tennessee, recalled operating on an elderly man injured in a car wreck over the summer. The man survived those injuries but ended up dying from COVID-19.

Jahangir said he was hit by how the man’s family seemed to absorb the facts about the COVID-19’s dangers only at the very end.

“Only when they were negatively impacted did they seek the truth,” Jahangir said.

Story continues below advertisement


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington and Grant Schulte in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this story.


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives sustain from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Click: See details

leave your comment