Skip to main content

Early stages of omicron had only a modest impact on booster uptake

National poll shows nearly half of those previously vaccinated remain resistant to boosters
person getting a booster shot
A national poll co-led by political scientist James Druckman examines booster shot uptake.

A national poll finds that nearly half (47%) of previously vaccinated respondents are booster hesitant or resistant, showing only a modest change in conviction, even after the World Health Organization recently (WHO) announced the risk posed by the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

“This suggests that the early stages of omicron did not alter vaccine intentions, however, that well may change as it continues to spread,” said IPR political scientist James Druckman. He co-leads the COVID States Project.

“This is not as surprising as it may appear at first glance — when the vaccinations first began, we saw a lot of hesitancy that dissipated once more and more people became vaccinated,” Druckman said.

Druckman is the Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and associate director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern.

While 30% of poll respondents overall indicated they had already received the COVID-19 booster shot, older adults and adults with post-secondary education, were the most likely to have received the booster shot.

The poll was conducted between Nov. 3 and Dec. 3 by the COVID States Project, a research partnership between Northwestern, Northeastern, Harvard and Rutgers universities.

The state-by-state poll of 22,277 Americans sought to understand the level conviction held by U.S. adults about the importance of booster shots for enhancing immunity to COVID-19. 

Partisan differences were only a minor factor in inclination toward the booster. Among poll respondents, 33% of Democrats and 27% of Republicans indicated they had received or intended to receive a booster shot. 

A far bigger predictor of inclination to get a booster shot was previous vaccination status.

Other key findings:

  • Older respondents are much more likely than their younger counterparts to have received a booster shot, with respondents over age 65 four times as likely as Gen Z respondents (ages 18-24), by 53% to 13%.
  • As education increases, the probability of having received a booster increases (from 22% among respondents with a high school education or less to 46% among their counterparts with graduate degrees).

Read the full report here. Previous COVID-States survey results can be found here.

For Journalists: view the news release for media contacts