HAP Blog

How Many Americans Have Received the Updated COVID-19 Shot?

Lagging vaccination rates signal shifting post-pandemic precautions

November 27, 2023

Public health leaders are closely monitoring the spread of respiratory viruses coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday.

As we approach winter and a season of indoor gathering, the uptake for the updated COVID-19 vaccine has fallen behind previous years, with just 14 percent of adults getting the new vaccine through early November.

“Here’s the bottom line: COVID-19 vaccine uptake is lower than we’d like to see, and most people will be without the added protection that can reduce the severity of COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement this month.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • By the numbers:  Data from earlier this month indicate just 13.9 percent of adults had received the updated 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine, and another 18.1 percent definitely planned to get vaccinated.
    • Vaccine coverage for adults 65 and older was better (30.4%), but still far from pandemic levels.
    • In Pennsylvania, 13.4 percent of adults had reported receiving a vaccine and 19.7 percent said they would definitely get it.
  • Disparities:  White adults had higher vaccination rates (17.6%), while Black (7.5%) and Hispanic (7.6%) adults were far less likely to have received the updated shot earlier this month. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor indicated Black (59%) and Hispanic adults (60%) were much more likely to say they had gotten or expect to get the vaccine compared to White adults (42%)
    • Rural areas also had lower vaccination coverage among adults (10.2%).
    • Uninsured adults also had lower rates of vaccination for the updated shot (3.7%).
  • Variant proportions:  The EG.5 variant (13.1% of cases) and its descendant HV.1 (31.7%) are the top circulating variants. These variants have not posed a “substantial threat” compared to other major variants that spread this year, officials note.
  • More free tests:  Starting November 20, the federal government has made another four free tests available via the online portal.
    • If you did not order tests during the fall, you can place two orders for eight tests.
  • The bottom line:  “COVID-19 vaccines don’t prevent every infection―that’s true of lots of vaccines―but they can reduce illness severity in people who get vaccinated but still get sick, helping to save lives, reduce hospitalizations, and prevent trips to the doctor,” the CDC noted.

About 85 percent of the U.S.—and all but five Pennsylvania counties—are at the lowest level for new COVID-19 hospital admissions, with less than 10 per 100,000 population.

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospital community continue to urge everyone to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination and to talk with their health care provider about any questions or concerns they may have. The CDC recommends everyone get vaccinated, stay home when sick, and access tests and treatments when they have signs or symptoms of a respiratory virus.

The national COVID-19 vaccination dashboard will be updated weekly.

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