The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people 50 and older get a second COVID-19 booster shot, but so far Massachusetts residents have not jumped at the opportunity.
Only about 471,000 people 50 and older in Massachusetts have gotten a second booster shot, or about 17.5 percent of the 2.7 million people in that age group, according to data from the state’s Department of Public Health.
The data come from the state’s weekly vaccination report, which is updated every Thursday.
The rate of second booster shots is “not good enough,” said Dr. Sabrina Assoumou, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and an attending physician in the section of infectious diseases at Boston Medical Center. “We should be getting the message out that if you’re eligible for a booster, whether it’s your first or second, please go ahead and get it.”
On May 19, as concerns grew about rising coronavirus cases, the CDC recommended that that all people 50 and older (as well as immunocompromised people 12 and older) get a second shot if at least four months have passed since their first booster dose. Earlier in the spring, the agency had said those 50 and older had the option of the additional shot, but only encouraged people over 65 or with underlying medical conditions to get it.
The strengthening of the recommendation on May 19 came the same day the CDC recommended that children ages 5 through 11 should receive a first booster shot, which grabbed a lot of headlines.
“Let’s acknowledge what happened here,” said Assoumou. “Initially, when CDC came out with their recommendation, it was not as strong as it could be.”
And when CDC updated the recommendation, Assoumou said, “I think some people may not have noticed.”
The state has been a national leader in vaccinations. About 5.4 million of 7 million residents are at least “fully vaccinated,” with two shots of the mRNA vaccines or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson, and about 3.1 million have gone on to get a first booster, according to DPH data.
“I think we’re doing a good job,” said Assoumou. “I want to acknowledge the progress we’ve made as a state. We’re doing well compared to others.”
At the same time, she said, “There’s a lot of SARS-CoV-2 out there. You know the number [of booster vaccinations] I want? 100 percent.”
The state has spent approximately $10.5 million on public awareness campaigns to encourage vaccination since January 2021, including campaigns focused on reminding residents about the importance of boosters, the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services said Thursday in a statement.
The state “has continued to encourage everyone to stay up to date on their COVID vaccinations with the latest recommendations,” the statement said.
Governor Charlie Baker got his second booster shot in late April, saying he was sending a message, “If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, you really should.”
The Department of Public Health advises people to get vaccinated and boosted, get tested, and if you test positive, talk to a doctor right away about COVID-19 treatment options that are available for people who have mild to moderate symptoms.
Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.