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Doctors warn of COVID-19 booster shot fatigue

Virus Outbreak Updating Vaccines
Posted at 10:59 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-04 23:59:21-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — Lensey Ackerman got her primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as she became eligible, in part because she works closely with senior citizens in an assisted living facility.

"For me, it was easy. I'm getting it," Ackerman said. "I wanted that protection for my family, too."

Ackerman's husband and six-year-old daughter also completed their primary series soon after they became eligible.

Ackerman also received her first booster shot as soon as she was eligible, and through her job, she was recently offered the second booster shot.

"This time, I declined for several reasons. One is I'm just tired of getting a vaccine. I'm over it," she said.

The COVID booster fatigue mentality that Ackerman is experiencing is something medical professionals, like Dr. Jessica Steier, are hearing a lot of lately.

"In the very beginning, we were united in our fear of this unknown virus, and then as we have evolved, there's been a shift away from individual responsibility," Dr. Steier said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as of July 2022, about 67% of Americans eligible for a COVID vaccine have gotten the primary series, and roughly half of that group has gotten a first booster shot.

"I think there's a false sense of security," Dr. Steier said. "It's no worse than the common cold or the flu, but that's not necessarily the case, and we can't predict future variants. Our advice is if it's available to you, it's a good idea to get it now."

Dr. Steier said in the short term, not getting boosted puts a person and those around them at greater risk for infection or possibly reinfection. Long-term, she said staying up to date with booster shots impacts long COVID.

"We're seeing that the vaccines and the boosters are preventing that, and if you do have long COVID, they do help resolve some of those symptoms," she said.

Dr. Larry Bush, an immunologist who's worked extensively on COVID vaccine trials, said another long-term impact to consider is that getting boosted moves everyone closer to a true endemic stage.

"The more the virus gets to replicate in a person as it's active, the more chance of a variant that may be very aggressive or that the vaccines have no effect on," Dr. Bush said.

Ackerman said she will continue to wait on getting a second COVID booster shot and consider it a win that her family has stayed free of COVID to this point. "I just want us to move on with our lives," she said.

In June of 2022, a Food and Drug Administration panel voted to recommend modifying COVID vaccine booster shots in hopes of offering protection from newer variants, and the newly formulated booster shots could be ready to roll out in the fall of 2022.