Healthcare Workers Eager for COVID Booster Shots

Richard Franki

August 20, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

As COVID vaccine boosters move closer to reality, most physicians and nurses are ready and willing to get another shot in the arm, according to a new Medscape survey.

Altogether, 93% of physicians and 87% of nurses/advanced practice nurses (APNs) said they wanted to get a booster, although the timing of when they wanted the shots differed somewhat between the two groups surveyed August 4-15.

Among the 732 physicians polled by Medscape, 50% wanted to get their shot immediately, compared with 38% of the 1193 nurses/APNs who responded, while 44% of physicians and 50% of nurses/APNs said that they would wait until the vaccine booster was authorized and recommended.

At this point in time, almost all of the healthcare workers surveyed — 98% of physicians and 94% of nurses/APNs — have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A small proportion of each group, however, received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (1% of physicians and 3% of nurses) and are not included in the current plan for booster shots.

The Medscape survey sample did include one group that is already eligible for a third dose: about 20% of physicians and 26% of nurses/ANPs said they have a condition or take a medication that compromises their immune system.

Respondents' experiences with patient requests for boosters suggest a somewhat lower level of interest. About two thirds of the healthcare workers (69% of physicians and 63% of nurses) said that patients frequently or sometimes asked about COVID boosters, compared with 13% (physicians) and 19% (nurses) who said their patients had never asked.

Interest Lower Among General Population

In a separate survey conducted among WebMD readers, 82% of those who have been at least partially vaccinated said they want to get a COVID vaccine booster (14% immediately and 68% after authorization and recommendation). Of the remaining vaccinees, 7% said they do not want to get a booster and 11% were unsure.

The full sample of 592 respondents surveyed August 5-10, however, included 19% who do not plan to get vaccinated and 6% who are planning to be vaccinated but have not yet done so.

The proportion of immunocompromised individuals in the two survey groups was similar, with about 25% of WebMD readers reporting they have a condition or take a medication that compromises their immune system. Those respondents were more than twice as likely to want to get a booster immediately, compared to those with an uncompromised immune system (24% vs 11%).

The distribution of vaccines received by brand was also comparable between the two groups surveyed. Of healthcare workers and readers, over half of each group received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (59% vs 54%), followed by Moderna (38% vs 40%) and Johnson & Johnson (3% vs 5%).

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