COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Hesitancy in the Emergency Department

Ann Emerg Med. 2023 Oct;82(4):509-516. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.04.009. Epub 2023 May 13.


Study objective: Little is known about COVID-19 booster vaccine hesitancy. We sought to determine the uptake of booster vaccines, as well as the prevalence of and reasons for booster hesitancy in emergency department (ED) patients.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey study of adult patients at 5 safety-net hospital EDs in 4 US cities from mid-January to mid-July 2022. Participants were fluent in English or Spanish and had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. We assessed the following parameters: (1) the prevalence of nonboosted status and reasons for not getting a booster; (2) the prevalence of booster vaccine hesitancy and reasons for hesitancy; and (3) the association of hesitancy with demographic variables.

Results: Of 802 participants, 373 (47%) were women, 478 (60%) were non-White, 182 (23%) lacked primary care, 110 (14%) primarily spoke Spanish, and 370 (46%) were publicly insured. Of the 771 participants who completed their primary series, 316 (41%) had not received a booster vaccine; the primary reason for nonreceipt was lack of opportunity (38%). Of the nonboosted participants, 179 (57%) expressed hesitancy, citing need for more information (25%), concerns about side effects (24%), and the belief that a booster was unnecessary after the initial series (20%). In the multivariable analysis, Asian participants were less likely to be booster hesitant than White participants (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.21, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.05 to 0.93), non-English-speaking participants were more likely to be booster hesitant than English-speaking participants (aOR 2.35, 95% CI 1.49 to 3.71), and Republican participants were more likely to be booster hesitant than Democrat participants (aOR 6.07, 95% CI 4.21 to 8.75).

Conclusion: Of almost half of this urban ED population who had not received a COVID-19 booster vaccine, more than one third stated that lack of opportunity to receive one was the primary reason. Furthermore, more than half of the nonboosted participants were booster hesitant, with many expressing concerns or a desire for more information that may be addressed with booster vaccine education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 Vaccines*
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Vaccination Hesitancy


  • COVID-19 Vaccines