Biden Getting Updated Covid Booster Shot Amid Dismal Public Uptake


President Joe Biden is slated to get his updated Covid-19 booster shot on Tuesday, reinvigorating the White House’s effort to encourage more Americans to get the updated shot as officials prepare for the virus to stage a comeback this winter.

Key Facts

Biden is expected to receive an updated Covid booster shot and call on community and business leaders to do more to encourage people to get the updated vaccines, which are available free of charge.

The updated boosters are designed to protect against both the original coronavirus strain and omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants and slash the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death from Covid.

Biden’s shot comes as the White House struggles to convince Americans of the need for and availability of the updated boosters, and while the immunization drive picked up pace last week, uptake remains pitiful.

Fewer than 20 million Americans have received an updated shot, according to CDC data, less than 10% of those eligible.

Polls suggest many Americans do not plan on getting an updated booster shot in the near future and half of adults haven’t even heard much about them, if at all.

The attitude toward boosting is evident in broader vaccination trends reported by the CDC, which show that a fifth of Americans are still unvaccinated and less than half of vaccinated people have gone on to get their first booster shot, let alone a second.

What To Watch For

Hospitalizations. In aggregate, hospitalizations in the U.S. are trending downwards. They are rising across much of Europe, however, and patterns there have historically carried through to the U.S. several months later. The overall figure in the U.S. also obscures what is happening in individual states, and hospitalizations are ticking up in areas like New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.


Experts warn a tough winter is ahead as Covid-19 coincides with surges in other respiratory illnesses, notably respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza (the flu). Officials have urged people to get vaccinated against the flu and warned it is already starting to spread, and surges of all three illnesses threaten to strain already-taxed healthcare systems. Seasonal flu kills between 12,000 and 52,000 people each year in the U.S., according to CDC estimates, sickening between 9 million and 41 million and RSV can cause serious issues in young infants.

Big Number

90,000. That’s how many deaths could be prevented this fall and winter if 80% of eligible people get their booster by the end of the year, according to research from the Commonwealth Fund and the Yale School of Public Health. This level of immunization could prevent more than 900,000 hospitalizations and save $56.3 billion in direct medical costs, including $13.5 billion in Medicare spending and $4.5 billion in Medicaid spending.

Further Reading

Europe’s Covid Wave Suggests U.S. Outbreak Looms Around The Corner (Forbes)