opposed the Biden administration’s plan to offer booster shots to all American adults. Many researchers said there was little scientific evidence to support the extra doses. Instead, they argued, the shots should be used to protect the billions of people who remain unvaccinated.

reversed course.

at least two times as likely to test positive as those who received a booster shot.

But many Americans have not gotten the message.

“When Omicron came out, the national media made such a big deal about it that there was a pretty good increase in the amount of people that went for the boosters,” said DeWayne Bush, the emergency operations coordinator for Taylor County, Texas. But demand in his area, around Abilene, has since tapered off amid reports that the variant may cause less severe disease than other forms of the virus.

“Now,” he said, “people have some questions about why was it such a big, huge issue.”

In Phoenix, Julian Montes, 19, a security guard at an Amazon facility who just got his second dose of Moderna, wondered how many boosters it would take to keep him and his family healthy.

“If the variants keep coming, is there going to be even more vaccinations we’re going to have to get?” he asked, heading into a strip mall in the working-class Hispanic neighborhood of Maryvale, which has been devastated by Covid-19 and has also had one of the lowest vaccination rates around Phoenix. “When the people you rely on for information don’t fully know what to do, it gives you a sense of doubt.”

In San Francisco, Brenda Washington, 64, expressed similar confusion.

“So do we have to get it or not?” asked Ms. Washington, who works two jobs and volunteers as a community organizer, and had been unable to make time for a booster until this week.

did not produce an adequate immune response in 2- to 5-year-olds in ongoing clinical trials. The setback threatens to keep the vaccine from younger children for longer than many had hoped.

The booster’s importance is not failing entirely to reach the public: The share of fully vaccinated adults who report receiving a booster dose more than doubled in November, according to a Kaiser report. At least one-third of Black and Hispanic adults over the age of 50 have received a booster, and many more said they plan to get one soon, suggesting that the initial hesitancy that some had about getting vaccinated has waned.

And some people complain that they would gladly be boosted, but the shot is harder to obtain than vaccinations were earlier this year, when cities and states deployed fleets of mobile units and commandeered places like Dodger Stadium as mass vaccine centers.

“In my mom’s city of 200,000 people, there are only four locations offering it,” tweeted Patrick Carlson, a computer programmer in Seattle whose mother lives in Oxnard, Calif. Of those, he added, three did not administer shots on weekends, a fourth had no weekend appointments before the New Year, and one had no appointments before Dec. 31 at all.

With more than half of the states already reporting Omicron cases, the sense of urgency is mounting.

“Don’t wait,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York exhorted this week amid reports that the city’s seven-day average for new Covid infections had tripled in the last month, with hospitalizations rising.

was the first state to report a case caused by the ultra-contagious Omicron variant, a fifth of its eligible population is still unvaccinated, according to state public health statistics. And despite an initial bump after Omicron’s alarming arrival in the United States was reported, some 60 percent of vaccinated Californians have yet to be boosted.

Jim and Geraldine Lemmond, in their 80s, had been vaccinated and boosted, but had come to the clinic for coronavirus tests because they still were not sure their protection was sufficient.

Davina Brown, 38, said she was getting the vaccine only because her job required it. “I don’t like the fact that I’m being forced into something,” she said. “My choices are not my choices — there’s no personal freedom.”

Raymond Bradley, 38, had come for the booster because he had gone out to a Sacramento Kings basketball game and had come away worried about breakthrough infections. “I want to get out,” he said. “See people. Not feel as anxious. And other people aren’t getting vaccinated, so I need to protect myself.”

He is weary, he added, of worst-case scenarios and conspiracy theories. He had no adverse reaction to the vaccine and “there have to be some scientists out there doing things for the good of the people.”

“Everything has just become strange,” he said. “Everything has become politicized versus common sense.”

Jack Healy, Jeffery C. Mays, Amy Schoenfeld Walker, Danielle Ivory and J. David Goodman contributed reporting.

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