This vaccine has tested me like nothing before and I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I can’t tell you how many people we’ve tried to cajole into taking it. — Dr. Gary Wiltz, director of the Franklin health center
This vaccine has tested me like nothing before and I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I can’t tell you how many people we’ve tried to cajole into taking it. — Dr. Gary Wiltz, director of the Franklin health center

It is an uphill battle. I can’t say that these conversations don’t come with tremendous burnout. But you keep going in hopes that you reach even one person to change their mind, because that’s a life saved. — Dr. Uzma Syed, an infectious disease specialist in Jericho, N.Y.
It is an uphill battle. I can’t say that these conversations don’t come with tremendous burnout. But you keep going in hopes that you reach even one person to change their mind, because that’s a life saved. — Dr. Uzma Syed, an infectious disease specialist in Jericho, N.Y.

Boosters Are Complicating Efforts to Persuade the Unvaccinated to Get Shots
Vaccinated people have been burning up the phone lines at the community health center in rural Franklin, La., clamoring for the newly authorized Covid booster shot. But only a trickle of people have been coming in for their initial doses, even though the rate of full vaccination in the area is still scarcely 39 percent.

The dichotomy illustrates one of the most frustrating problems facing public health officials at this stage of the pandemic: Almost all the eligible adults who remain unvaccinated in the United States are hard-core refusers, and the arrival of boosters is making efforts to coax them as well as those who are still hesitating even more difficult. In the September vaccine monitor survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 71 percent of unvaccinated respondents said the need for boosters indicated that the vaccines were not working.

“This vaccine has tested me like nothing before and I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” said Dr. Gary Wiltz, director of the Franklin health center. “I can’t tell you how many people we’ve tried to cajole into taking it.”


In some ways the Covid vaccine landscape reflects great progress: Millions of holdouts have decided to get vaccinated over the past couple months, many prodded at the last minute by mandates or anxiety over the highly transmissible Delta variant. (Three unvaccinated people who showed up for shots in Franklin the other morning came because each knew someone who had recently died from Covid.) The decline of new cases recently in many states is another marker of the success of the vaccine campaigns, public health officials say.

But millions of adults are not covered by mandates. Experts in vaccine behavior fear that the country is bumping up against the ceiling of persuadable people, one that is significantly lower than the threshold needed for broad immunity from Delta and, possibly, future variants.

“One day we just hit a wall,” said Dr. Steven Furr, who practices family medicine in rural Jackson, Ala., where he has even made house calls to give patients their Covid shots. “We had vaccinated everybody who wanted to be vaccinated and there was nobody left.”

About 56 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, a level that exceeds some early estimates about what it could take to achieve so-called herd immunity against the coronavirus. That percentage will surely rise once the shots are authorized for children under 12. But Delta is so contagious that experts have revised their optimum coverage estimates to 90 percent or higher.

... But at this point, many doctors and nurses say they are exhausted by putting in so much persuasive effort, for so many months, with relatively little return, even as they are treating very ill patients who had refused to get vaccinated.

“It is an uphill battle,” said Dr. Uzma Syed, an infectious disease specialist in Jericho, N.Y., on Long Island, who for months has been giving vaccine education talks to national and international groups. “I can’t say that these conversations don’t come with tremendous burnout. But you keep going in hopes that you reach even one person to change their mind, because that’s a life saved.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/health/covid-boosters-unvaccinated.html