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COVID-19, Press Release

Vaccine Researchers Show Need For Increased Booster Advocacy While Maintaining Focus On the Unvaccinated

Published On January 19, 2022

Washington, DC – United States of Care (USofCare) released a memo today summarizing the latest research findings from its partners in the Vaccine Researchers Consortium. This memo wraps up members’ 2021 research aimed at increasing the confidence in vaccines, and the overall rates of vaccination against COVID-19. The Consortium’s findings are especially important amid the current national surge of the Omicron variant, daily cases nearing one million, nursing shortages, and hospitals once again becoming overcrowded. 

Early data about the severity of Omicron infections shows yet again how critical it is that we strive for broad immunity, inasmuch as people who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to experience severe illness from the virus, much less likely to be hospitalized, and much less likely to die.

“A year after vaccines became widely available, the Vaccine Researchers Consortium’s data shows that advocates have achieved substantial success in increasing overall uptake. However, vaccine hesitancy among a significant portion of the population remains a barrier to broad immunity,” said Natalie Davis, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of USofCare. 

“With the threat of variants, uncertainty around boosters, and winter underway, it’s important as ever for trusted messengers to deliver facts encouraging those still-unvaccinated individuals to get their first dose. I know firsthand how critical it is to be able to have those conversations. Over the holidays, my kids and I all contracted COVID — a mild case thanks to our vaccinations. Even as we were protected from severe illness, it was absolutely key to our family’s well-being to be able to get crucial information from our pediatrician,” Davis continued.

Consortium research also makes clear that advocates must now balance how they devote resources toward emphasizing both the importance of children’s vaccination and the benefits of boosters for adults — while still ensuring that efforts don’t stall in persuading people to get their first shot. A sizable portion of respondents remain unsure of the recommendations around the necessity of the booster shot. Even still, the share of people getting their boosters has doubled since October.

Fifty-four percent of vaccinated adults say they’re more likely to get their booster due to the spread of the Omicron variant, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additionally, the Ad Council tested messaging among unvaccinated parents of children ages 5-11, with findings that show parents’ concerns around vaccinating children must be addressed explicitly. 

Other noteworthy takeaways include:

  • Primary care providers remain a critical source for individuals to speak to about the benefits of the vaccine. As misinformation spreads, these are trusted professionals to be consulted about personal medical decisions.
  • Over time, more respondents have received one dose of the vaccine, a positive reflection on the nationwide public health effort.
  • Top concerns among the unvaccinated remain potential side effects of the vaccine and/or concern that the vaccine has moved through clinical trials too soon.

“USofCare is committed to building a better, more equitable health care system in the pandemic’s wake. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the urgent need for health care access. We will continue to partner with diverse health care leaders — as we have in the Vaccine Researchers Consortium — to build innovative solutions that ensure every person can access affordable health care.” Davis added.

You can read the full memorandum here.