Ann Arbor, MI—Pharmacists appear to have their work cut out for them as fall vaccination season approaches.

The good news is that a fairly high percentage of those most vulnerable to COVID-19 say they will "roll up their sleeves" for booster vaccines reformulated to be more effective against viral variants.

A new poll from the University of Michigan (UM) indicated that 61% of people aged older than 50 years who have already gotten at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine are very likely to get an updated booster shot.

The percentage goes up to 68% for adults aged older than 65 years, as well as for black adults aged older than 50 years, and people with low incomes—all of whom suffered some of the worst outcomes during the pandemic.

For the slightly younger 50- to 64-year age group, however, only 55% said that they are very likely to get a fall booster.

Another 21% of adults aged older than 50 years who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the past say they are somewhat likely to get a booster this fall.

The annual influenza vaccine might be a harder sell, according to the poll in late July 2022 for the National Poll on Healthy Aging, based at the UM Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. AARP and the UM sponsored the research.

While 74% of people aged older than 65 years said they were very likely to get a flu shot, only 46% of people aged 50 to 64 years said the same. Another 13% of the younger group and 6% of the older group said they were somewhat likely to get a flu shot.

Sizable percentages of some groups of previously vaccinated older adults said they will not get a fall booster at all, including 23% of all adults aged 50 to 64 years, and 22% of all white respondents aged older than 50 years.

Fall booster attitudes also vary depending on current vaccination status. While 24% of vaccinated-but-not-boosted older adults say they are very likely to get a fall booster, the percentage was 56% among those who have gotten one booster and 88% of those who have gotten two boosters. Second boosters have been available to people aged older than 50 years since late March.

"The vaccines we've had since late 2020 have saved countless lives and made COVID-19 much less serious for millions worldwide. We also know that those who got at least one booster dose have done better than others in the Omicron variant era," stated poll director Preeti Malani, MD, an infectious disease physician also trained in geriatrics at Michigan Medicine. "But if we're going to drive down deaths, hospitalizations, serious illness and long-term effects even further, we will need to get as many people vaccinated with these new formulations as possible."

Dr. Malani strongly urged pharmacists and other healthcare providers to start communicating to their patients now about the importance of getting a dose of one of the update boosters when they become available.

In the poll, 77% of older adults reported that their provider's recommendation about COVID-19 vaccination is very or somewhat important to their decision to get vaccinated.

The percentage saying a provider's recommendation was very important was highest for those aged over 65 years (56%) and those who are black (79%), retired (56%), or have incomes under $30,000 (56%) compared with those of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, work statuses, or income levels.

Currently, only 19% of people aged 50 to 64 years and 44% of people aged older than 65 years have gotten two booster doses. The poll also showed that 17% of people aged older than 50 years have not yet received any doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.