More than 936,000 hospitalizations and as many as 90,000 deaths could be prevented if 80% of Americans eligible for the latest COVID-19 booster get vaccinated by the end of this year, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund published Wednesday.
The study suggests that a federal investment in vaccination campaigns could also generate billions in savings.
Booster uptake in the U.S. has "steadily declined since the initial wave of the omicron variant, and federal financial support for vaccination campaigns has not been replenished, partly because of the perception that the pandemic is over," according to the report.
But, if vaccination continued at its current pace through the end of March 2023, "a potential winter surge in COVID-19 infections could result in a peak of around 16,000 hospitalizations and 1,200 deaths per day by March 2023," the researchers said.
The federal government last month started rolling out a new round of boosters targeting the original coronavirus and the two omicron subvariants currently causing most infections.
But some state officials say vaccine demand is weak and funding to fight infectious diseases is waning.
"We as a country have to move from a pandemic phase to a post-pandemic phase. But I think the biggest challenge is that transition point, that transition period. How long is that period going to be? And how well managed is it going to be? If it’s approached more like a cliff, as opposed to a rolling hill, we could be in real trouble," Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said last month.
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