Recent reports shed light on the slow uptake of COVID-19 booster shots in the United States.
According to Politico, only 3% of eligible Americans have opted for the latest booster shot, though there might be a delay in reporting. This comes as the Biden administration endeavors to encourage annual COVID-19 vaccinations. Despite the sluggish start, leading health officials express confidence that the U.S. is on course to match last year’s uptake levels, which peaked at just 17% of the population.
In a noteworthy development, the FDA has disclosed that when the COVID-19 booster is administered in conjunction with the flu shot, there is a slightly heightened risk of blood clots leading to stroke, particularly for individuals aged 85 and above. A study conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration, examining Medicare claims data, revealed this safety concern.
This marks the second study to identify an elevated stroke risk for seniors who receive both COVID-19 and flu vaccinations simultaneously. In response, the US Centers for Disease Control and FDA issued a public advisory in January, based on real-time vaccine safety monitoring data, indicating a small but uncertain stroke risk for older adults who receive Pfizer’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine alongside a high-dose or adjuvanted flu shot on the same day. This prompted the FDA to undertake a more comprehensive investigation into post-vaccination stroke incidents recorded in the medical records of seniors covered by Medicare.
Meanwhile, public trust in U.S. government institutions has reached an all-time low. According to Pew Research, confidence in the federal government, historically low, has now dipped even further. Currently, fewer than 2 in 10 Americans express trust in the government in Washington to consistently do what is right. This level of trust is one of the lowest recorded in nearly seven decades of polling, with only 1% stating they trust the government “just about always” and 15% saying they trust it “most of the time.”
Taken together, these developments may appear disjointed, but they collectively underscore the multifaceted challenges faced by public health authorities and government institutions in the current climate.