University of Michigan: Most older adults plan to get updated COVID-19 booster this fall

New fall boosters will help body fight Omicron BA.4, BA.5 variants

A pharmacist prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination for children under five at Walgreens pharmacy Monday, June 20, 2022, in Lexington, S.C. Today marked the first day COVID-19 vaccinations were made available to children under 5 in the United States. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford) (Sean Rayford, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ANN ARBOR – Updated COVID-19 vaccines that have been formulated to protect against new variants of the virus could soon be available in the U.S.

According to a new poll by the University of Michigan, 61% of people over the age of 50 who have already received at least one jab are very likely to get the updated booster.

The poll also suggests that health care providers could sway more members of this population to seek out the new vaccine -- with 77% of older adults reporting their doctor’s recommendation is somewhat to very important to them.

Three groups have been especially vulnerable to dying from the highly contagious virus, including individuals over the age of 65, Black adults over the age of 50 and those with low incomes.

According to the poll, 68% of people in all three groups who have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine say they are very likely to get the booster this fall.

In contrast, 55% of people between the ages of 50-64 who had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine said they were very likely to get the updated booster.

Approximately 21%, or 1 in 5 adults over the age of 50, who were previously vaccinated against COVID-19 said they are somewhat likely to seek out the fall booster.

Meanwhile, 22% of white respondents over the age of 50 and 23% of adults between the ages of 50-64 said they do not plan on getting a booster shot.

“The vaccines we’ve had since late 2020 have saved countless lives and made COVID-19 much less serious for millions worldwide,” the poll’s director and an infectious disease physician at U-M Preeti Malani said in a statement. “We also know that those who got at least one booster dose have done better than others in the Omicron variant era.

“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.”

The poll found that current vaccination status had an impact on attitudes toward the fall booster, with 56% of older adults with one booster reporting they are very likely to seek it out, while 88% who had received two boosters reported the same. Since late March, adults over the age of 50 have had access to second booster shots.

The poll was taken for the National Poll on Healthy Aging at U-M’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in late July. It is supported by Michigan Medicine and AARP.