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COVID-19 booster campaign would save US lives, costs, analysis finds

Virus Outbreak Updating Vaccines
Posted at 2:39 PM, Oct 05, 2022

Although many in the United States say they’re not planning on getting an updated COVID-19 booster, a recent analysis indicates a campaign to get boosted could save lives and money.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, a campaign to increase the number of Americans to get updated COVID-19 boosters would save 90,000 lives and 936,000 hospitalizations. The group estimates that a successful campaign would save up to $56 billion in direct medical costs.

To reach those goals, the Commonwealth Fund said that the U.S. would need to vaccinate 80% of those eligible for a booster.

Even a less successful campaign, one that mimics flu vaccination rates every year, would save about 75,000 lives and 745,000 hospitalizations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that about 50% of U.S. adults get flu vaccinations annually, with a higher proportion of older Americans getting the shot.

But if recent polling is any indicator, the U.S. could fall short of these targets. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a poll earlier this month indicating that 32% have either gotten a booster shot or plan to do so. An additional 18% said they will “wait and see.”

Some 27% said they’re not eligible for a booster shot. Booster shots are available to those ages 12 and up who have been previously fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The updated vaccines were in response to a virus that has mutated over the last two and a half years. Although the original shot was quite effective, the original vaccine has struggled to stop the spread of mild and moderate cases of the virus.

The new version of the COVID-19 vaccine is already available at many pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.