A Verywell Report: Vaccinated People Hold on to Hope of Boosters

Verywell’s survey of 2,000 Americans shows vaccine hesitancy remains strong.

Hands reaching for the COVID booster shot vial.

Ellen Lindner / Verywell

Key Themes From Our Survey

  • Despite increasing infections and hospitalizations, the unvaccinated aren't budging.
  • People who have been vaccinated want booster shots in hopes of added protection.
  • But survey respondents still have reservations and concerns about boosters.

Even with COVID-19 infections surging past 40 million in the U.S. and twice as many people hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to a year ago, the unvaccinated aren't budging.

According to Verywell Health's latest vaccine sentiment survey, 1 in 5 (22%) people reject the COVID-19 vaccine or are undecided about taking it—a number that has remained the same for the past three months.

After almost a year, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. While experts hoped this decision would reassure unvaccinated people, only 26% of those surveyed by Verywell said that the FDA approval makes them feel more confident about the COVID-19 vaccine. More than half (55%) say it has no impact.

As the unvaccinated remain unmoved, and variants make their way across the country, the pandemic will likely worsen over the next few months.

In hopes of bolstering protection for those who are vaccinated ahead of a possible winter surge, experts are now turning their efforts toward booster shots.

The data presented in this article is from sixteen surveys of 2,000 Americans asked about their thoughts and feelings towards getting the COVID-19 vaccines. We collected the latest data for the week ending on August 27. Our survey sample highlighted four types of respondents based on their answer to whether or not they’d get an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine if it were free and available: 

  • Acceptors: Those who would agree to be vaccinated but have not yet
  • Rejectors: Those who would not agree to take a vaccine
  • Undecideds: Those who don’t know if they would take a vaccine
  • Vaccinated: Those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination

Boosters Bolster Hope—Not Just Immunity

As the pandemic rages on, experts are hoping additional vaccine shots can help those willing to get vaccinated stay healthy and reduce their ability to spread the virus. These booster shots may help provide additional immunity and may improve vaccine efficacy against new mutations of the virus. 

Many of the vaccinated in our survey are eagerly awaiting their third dose. Our data shows that people feel good about an additional dose of the vaccine. About two-thirds of those surveyed have heard of the booster, and 82% of the vaccinated population say they’d take one.

Not only are the boosters potentially important in improving immunity to COVID-19, but our survey shows they’re also playing a big role in giving vaccinated people hope in the face of what seems like a never-ending pandemic.

Forty-six percent of vaccinated people in our survey say the booster makes them feel more hopeful about the pandemic, while 35% of vaccine rejectors say it makes them feel less hopeful. 

Still, experts and individuals alike share concerns about the boosters.

About two-thirds (68%) of vaccinated folks in our survey have at least some concerns about the booster. Among the top concerns are needing more boosters, feeling unwell, and the possibility of long-term side effects from additional doses.

The booster shot data gathered so far suggests that people should not expect severe side effects. Side effects will likely be mild to moderate and similar to those of the initial doses of mRNA vaccines. 

Experts have also debated whether it's ethical for a country to offer additional shots to prevent mild or moderate infections when those vaccines are still needed in other areas of the world to prevent hospitalizations and deaths. This sentiment is reflected in our survey, too.

Nineteen percent of vaccinated people said they are concerned about getting a third dose while other countries don’t have enough vaccines.

The CDC and FDA are hoping to address some of these concerns, as they review boosters for authorization in the coming weeks. These boosters, plus additional control measures at the federal level, will hopefully help mitigate COVID-19 spread in the coming months.

Methodology

The Verywell Vaccine Sentiment Tracker is a biweekly measurement of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors around COVID-19 and the vaccine. The survey is fielded online every other week. The total sample matches U.S. Census estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and region. It consists of 1,000 Americans from December 16, 2020, until February 26, 2020, after which the sample size increased to 2,000 per wave.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker. Updated September 9, 2021.