(WHTM) — The new bivalent COVID booster has been available since early September. It specifically targets the new variants, but the number of people getting that shot is low.

In Pennsylvania, the number is hovering just around 4 percent, and that has doctors worried.
Even with COVID cases down right now, people cannot ignore precautions like the vaccine.

“This is for some people going to be their fifth COVID shot,” UPMC infectious disease specialist Dr. John Goldman said.

Goldman said people are feeling “vaccine fatigue.”

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“We’ve got the feeling that this is turning into an endemic disease, and so I think people don’t feel the urgency they felt with the first couple of shots,” he said.

Less than 4 percent of Pennsylvanians have gotten the new booster since it rolled out in early September. That is compared to nearly 32 percent who received their first booster and almost two-thirds who are fully vaccinated.

“Everyone is just tired,” Lancaster General Health infectious disease physician Dr. Nitin Patel said.

Patel said misinformation about the vaccine is also a factor.

“People who got vaccinated, they still got infection so there’s a little bit, trust of the vaccine has declined,” he said.

Goldman said it is still important to get the shot. The new booster is different than previous vaccines based on the original strain of the virus.

“[It] specifically provides protection against the variants which are circulating now,” he said.

Getting boosted is more important as the state heads into fall and winter. Goldman said right now, cases are going down, but that could change.

“What we fear is that they’re going to go up just like every other respiratory virus goes up during cold and flu season,” he said.

Still both doctors remain optimistic. With better messaging and time, they think more people will be rolling up their sleeves.

“Once we get our act together and try to push, there should be more uptake,” Patel said.

“When it becomes more of a regular, a yearly shot, not an every three or four month shot, we’ll see a higher rate of uptake,” Goldman said.

Everyone 12 or older is eligible for at least one of the two new boosters available. Doctors say if someone has recently had COVID or a different booster, the should wait two to three months before signing up for this one.