The new COVID vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTek have been available for several weeks now, but as of the end of September, only 4 million US citizens had gotten their booster shot. There were some distribution hiccups as private insurers rather than US government handled the process, and vaccine supplies were limited for a time. A bigger problem is that resistance to new vaccines has become entrenched in a large fraction of the population.
According to survey data gathered by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) in early September, 64% of individuals over 65 years of age would either definitely or probably get the new vaccine, whereas 35% would definitely or probably not get the booster shot. The vaccine was not thought to be free to the uninsured under age 65 (this has since changed), and 66% of individuals in this category said they would not or probably would not get the vaccine.
Vaccine acceptance and faith in scientific expertise has become highly politicized since the COVID pandemic began in 2019. Only 11% of Democrats surveyed by KFF said that they would definitely not get the vaccine booster, but that number swelled to 53% when Republicans were surveyed. Fewer than 10% of Republicans said they would definitely get the shot, versus 42% for Democrats. This party-line disparity even extends to the annual flu vaccine, where 87% of Democrats said yes to the shot this year versus 64% of Republicans.
Vaccine scepticism has lethal consequences. After COVID vaccines became widely available, the excess death rate (compared to before vaccines) from COVID was 10.4% for Republicans compared to 1.6% for Democrats. With total deaths from COVID now at 1,146,000 individuals, it is estimated that over 100,000 Republicans have lost their lives due to vaccine denial.
Locally, new COVID infections are trending downward after an increase in September, but deaths from COVID are still increasing. Now that the new COVID vaccines should be free for everyone, there is no reason not to get the latest booster shot as soon as possible, even if your party preference is Republican. We value you as a Del Mar citizen whatever your political affiliation.