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Poll finds strong support among the vaccinated for COVID-19 booster shot

Nursing student Ana Quintanilla delivers the COVID-19 vaccine

Nursing student Ana Quintanilla delivers the COVID-19 vaccine at a Molloy College vaccination event in April. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Support for COVID-19 booster shots is high among those who are vaccinated, according to a new poll released Wednesday by Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital.

Researchers said 75% of vaccinated people who participated in the random phone poll of 600 residents of Long Island and New York City said they would get the booster shot designed to increase their immunity to COVID-19.

But the majority of unvaccinated people who were surveyed as part of the poll don’t appear to be wavering in their decision against getting vaccinated.

The poll showed 54% of unvaccinated respondents said they still do not plan to get the COVID-19 shot, even though the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Another 23% of unvaccinated respondents said the FDA approval makes them "more likely" to get inoculated.

Dr. Adhi Sharma, president of Mount Sinai South Nassau, said he was "pleasantly surprised" to see the vast majority of respondents were interested in getting a booster shot.

"It shows a lot of confidence in vaccine safety and confidence in the process we've been using in terms of recommendations for the vaccination schedule," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that vaccinated people with "moderately to severely compromised" immune systems receive an additional dose at least 28 days after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. While the FDA has approved the use of boosters in that population, it has not yet weighed in on a broader proposal by the Biden administration to provide COVID-19 boosters to other vaccinated people.

The survey, sponsored by Bethpage Credit Union, is one of the hospital’s "Truth in Medicine" polls conducted on a regular basis. This poll, which is subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 3.9%, was conducted between Aug. 24 and Aug. 27.

The most recent one was released last October, before the COVID-19 vaccine was available. It showed less than half of the people surveyed said they would get inoculated.

In the current poll, 82% of respondents said they had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of those who said they have not been vaccinated, 27% believe the vaccine is unsafe, and 16% said they don’t trust what the government has said about it.

Sharma pointed to an overwhelming body of data that shows the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people. The CDC said more than 369 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through Aug. 30.

The poll also showed strong support for vaccinations of teachers. Overall, 68% of all respondents — vaccinated and unvaccinated — said they think teachers should be vaccinated before the start of the school year.

"I thought that was very telling because it kind of shows that people don’t feel it’s unsafe, but they wanted to put it on somebody else," Sharma said.

On the thorny question of masks for students in kindergarten through grade 12, just over half of respondents said they should be required to wear masks while in school.

Jean Marie Osborne, an associate professor at the Barbara H. Hagan School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Molloy College and a certified adult nurse practitioner, said most people believe teachers should be vaccinated since there is no vaccine currently for children under the age of 12.

"We have this inert need to protect young children, and as adults, teachers have the ability to get vaccinated," she said.

Almost half, 45%, of vaccinated people polled said they felt "angry and resentful" toward people who have not been vaccinated.

Osborne said it's more helpful to listen to their concerns without judgment, find out where their concerns are coming from, and provide information from reputable sources.

"There is a lot of misinformation out on social media and on the internet and it's confusing when you are not in the health care arena to really pick out what is truthful and what is not," Osborne said. "The more educated people become, the more likely they are to receive the vaccine."

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