Only 15% of COVID-vaccinated Americans say they've received the new variant-specific booster

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
October 19, 2022, 10:35 PM GMT+0

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall in the U.S., a growing share of Americans are removing their masks — even as support for indoor mask mandates remains relatively high, especially when it comes to air travel. This week's Economist/YouGov poll shows that few Americans have heard much about the new variant-specific booster shot, and only 15% of people who've been vaccinated and are eligible say they've received it. More say they've gotten or plan to get a flu shot than say the same about the new COVID booster.

A growing share of Americans say they have not worn a face mask outside their home in the past week. Half of people (52%) now say they haven't worn a mask at all, up 7 percentage points since we last asked, about a month ago.

Support for an indoor mask mandate also has declined over the past six months, though the change is smaller than in the share of Americans who never wear masks. Now, only 43% of Americans strongly or somewhat support a policy that makes it mandatory to wear masks in public indoor places, down from 49% in April. Nearly half of people – 47% – oppose an indoor mask mandate.

One area where opinions have not changed is in regard to requiring masks on airplanes and in airports: 58% now support requiring masks on airplanes and 57% support requiring them in airports. Support for each of these two measures has fallen by no more than two percentage points since April, when the requirement of masks for air travel was dropped.

A growing share of vaccinated Americans have received the recently available COVID-19 booster shot tailored to specific newer variants. Now, 15% of people who were eligible to receive the new booster have gotten it, compared to only 3% who said they had in mid-September, just after the new shots were first released. An additional 40% of eligible Americans say they would like to receive the booster but have not yet. One in four (24%) who are eligible say they don't plan to get the new booster. The share who either have gotten the new booster or say they want it has hardly budged in the past month.

Few have heard much about the new variant-specific booster shot. Only 30% of Americans say they've heard a lot about it, while 54% say they've heard a little and 16% say they've heard nothing at all.

Far more Americans have received a flu vaccine than have gotten the new COVID-19 booster: 29% say they've received a flu shot this year, while an additional 29% say they plan to receive one. At the start of last October, fewer people – 17% – said they'd received a flu shot. However, the share who said last October that they either had gotten a flu shot or intended to get one is similar to the share who say either of those now.

– Carl Bialik contributed to this article

Polling by the Economist/YouGov was conducted on October 16 - 18, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

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