Nearly a Quarter of Vaccinated Adults Received a COVID-19 Booster Shot, Up Sharply from October; Most Other Vaccinated Adults Expect to Get a Booster, Though About 1 in 5 Say They Likely Won’t

 Nearly a Quarter of Vaccinated Adults Received a COVID-19 Booster Shot, Up Sharply from October; Most Other Vaccinated Adults Expect to Get a Booster, Though About 1 in 5 Say They Likely Won’t

Public is Less Optimistic and More Frustrated with State of Vaccinations Now Than in January

Nearly a quarter (23%) of fully vaccinated adults have already received a COVID-19 booster shot, more than double the share who had done so in October (10%), the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor report reveals.

Most other vaccinated adults say they definitely (37%) or probably (19%) will get a booster shot as recommended, while about a fifth say they will probably (10%) or definitely (8%) not do so.

The survey was fielded from Nov. 8-22 during a period when booster shots were regularly in the news. On Nov. 19, federal authorities made all vaccinated adults eligible for boosters. After the field period, on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance encouraging all vaccinated adults to get boosters. News also broke last week after the field period about the new omicron variant.

The report shows that more than half, but not all, fully vaccinated adults across racial and ethnic groups, ages, and political identification either have or likely will get a booster once eligible six months after their initial vaccination. If everyone who expects to get a booster shot at this point follows through, 53% of all adults would receive a booster. Guidance issued Monday from CDC encouraging all vaccinated adults to get a booster shot and the threat posed by the omicron variant may increase the share of the public eager to get booster shots beyond these levels.

About a third (33%) of fully vaccinated older adults (ages 50 and up), representing a quarter (25%) of all adults in that age range, say they already received a booster shot, including similar shares of older White, Black and Hispanic adults. People in this age group were among the first groups eligible and encouraged to get booster shots.

Among partisans, a larger share of vaccinated Democrats say they received a booster (32%) compared to independents (21%) and Republicans (18%), reflecting Democrats’ broader enthusiasm for vaccinations. Nearly one-third of vaccinated Republicans say they definitely or probably won’t get a booster (31%).

A Third of Workers at Employers with At Least 100 Workers Say They Face a Vaccine Requirement

The report also looks at workers’ views and experiences with workplace vaccine requirements in light of a Biden administration policy to require employers with at least 100 workers to require their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine or be tested weekly for the virus.

While a federal appeals court has put that policy on hold, a majority of workers at such firms say they already face such a requirement (36%) or want their employer to impose one (17%). Fewer (41%) say their employer does not now require a vaccine and they don’t want such a requirement.

Workers at smaller firms, whose employers would not be subject to the federal policy, are much less likely to say they already face a vaccine requirement (11%) or that they want one (20%).

The public overall is split on the Biden administration policy, with slightly more saying they support (52%) than oppose (45%) the federal government requiring large employers to mandate vaccines or weekly tests.

Most unvaccinated adults (79%) and Republicans (79%) oppose the policy, while most vaccinated adults (65%) and Democrats (86%) favor it. Independents are divided (48% favor, 50% oppose). 

Public is Less Optimistic and More Frustrated with State of Vaccinations Now Than in January

Even before news about the omicron variant, the report captures the public’s rising frustration and waning optimism about the state of COVID-19 vaccinations across the country.

Most (58%) of the public now says they feel “frustrated,” up from January (50%) as the nation began its mass vaccination effort. Now half (48%) say they are “optimistic,” down from two thirds (66%). The shifts largely reflect higher frustration and lower optimism among Republicans and, to a lesser extent, independents.

When asked about President Biden’s handling of the pandemic, the public is split – with similar shares saying they approve (44%) and disapprove (48%). A larger share of independents disapprove (52%) than approve (39%), while Democrats overwhelmingly approve (83%) and Republicans overwhelmingly disapprove (88%).

No Movement in the Share of the Public That Received At Least an Initial Vaccine Dose

Despite enthusiasm for booster shots among those already vaccinated, the report shows no significant movement in the share of adults getting an initial vaccine, with 73% now saying they have done so, virtually unchanged since September (72%).

Another 2% say they plan to get vaccinated “as soon as possible” and 6% say they want to “wait and see” how it works for others before getting it. Others are more reluctant, either saying they would get it “only if required” (3%) for work, school or other reasons, or will “definitely not” get it (14%).

While majorities across all demographic groups have received a COVID-19 vaccine, a quarter of Republicans (26%), White Evangelical Christians (25%) and people without health insurance (25%) continue to say they will “definitely not” get a COVID-19 vaccine. There are also gaps in vaccine uptake between college graduates and those without a college degree (83% vs. 68%) and across age groups, with those ages 65 and older more likely to have gotten vaccinated than adults under age 30 (89% vs. 67%).

Among women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, less than two thirds (64%) received a vaccine dose compared to nearly three quarters (73%) among similarly aged women who aren’t pregnant or trying to become so. This may reflect worries about the vaccine’s effects on pregnancy, as less than half (39%) of women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant are confident the vaccines are safe for pregnant people.

The report also notes:

• More than half (53%) of adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health negatively, including 21% who say it has had a major negative impact. More women (58%) than men (47%) report a negative impact, as do more adults under age 30 (64%) than adults over age 65 (37%).

• When asked about the pandemic’s economic impact, 43% say it’s made it harder for them to pay for basic necessities like housing, utilities, and food. This includes most Black (56%) and Hispanic (52%) adults, as well as most people with household incomes under $40,000 annually (56%).

About half of adults say that the government has not done enough to help small businesses (48%) and low-income people (48%) during the pandemic. Nearly as many say the same about Black people (41%), rural residents (41%), and Hispanic people (39%). Small shares say the government has not done enough to help people like them (32%), White people (26%) and big companies (18%).

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the KFF Vaccine Monitor survey was conducted from Nov. 8-22 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,820 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (192) and cell phone (1,628). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfold, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, information needs, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

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