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Internet Searches For Covid Booster Shots Surge After FDA Decision—But Mostly In States With High Vaccination Rates

Published 7 months ago
By Forbes


Online search interest in ‘booster shots’ has risen sharply ever since the U.S. Food And Drug Administration recommended older and immunocompromised Americans get an extra dose, with interest being highest in highly vaccinated states like Hawaii, Vermont and Connecticut, while searches for unproven treatments overtake interest in boosters in states with lower vaccination rates.


According to U.S. Google Trends data, interest in the phrase “booster shot” rose sharply around mid-August when additional doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved for immunocompromised individuals and then it surged even higher in September as access was expanded to include all seniors and other high-risk individuals.

With some exceptions, search interest in boosters unsurprisingly is higher in states like Hawaii, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey—all states with vaccination rates above 70%.  

Conversely, interest in boosters is significantly lower in states like Wyoming, Louisiana and North Dakota, where vaccination rates are lower.

Among the three vaccines approved for use in the U.S., interest is highest in Moderna boosters—despite Pfizer’s vaccine being the one that is more widely distributed.


While search interest in the phrase “booster shot” has surged significantly since the FDA decision, peak interest in the term is still significantly lower than the online attention that the antiparasitic drug ivermectin received in the past two months. Despite the Food and Drug Administration warning that ivermectin should not be used to treat or prevent Covid-19, the unproven drug has gained popularity among anti-vaxxers around the country. Google Trends data shows that in states with lower vaccination rates—Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Alabama—search interest for the unproven drug remains higher than booster shots. 


10.9 million. That’s the total number of people around the U.S. who have received a Covid vaccine booster shot, according to CDC data. A total of 189 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.


Last week, an FDA advisory committee voted in favor of Moderna booster doses for people at most risk from Covid-19—those 65 years old and over and those between 18 and 64 at high risk for severe Covid-19 and those whose occupations put them at increased risk for the disease. A day later the committee voted unanimously to recommend booster shots of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for all people 18 and older. Both decisions came nearly a month after the committee decided to recommend Pfizer vaccine boosters for the elderly and people who are at high risk of severe Covid-19. Last week, the World Health Organization also recommended booster shots for people who are immunocompromised. The global agency had previously implored wealthier nations to hold off on booster shots until vaccines were more widely available in lower-income countries.


COVID Data Tracker (CDC)

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