Beyond hesitancy: The bigger reasons millions haven't gotten their COVID-19 shot

About 30 million Americans who haven't gotten the COVID-19 vaccine cite a number of practical barriers, not vaccine hesitancy, as the reason they haven't gotten the shot, The New York Times reported May 12.

The estimate, which comes from a new U.S. census cited by the Times, outnumbers the more than 28 million who said they would probably or definitely not get vaccinated.

Instead, the overlooked group of those who are willing but haven't yet gotten the shot, cite a range of complex explanations, such as scheduling conflicts with jobs and family obligations. 

The Times reports that about half of this group live in households making less than $50,000 a year, according to an analysis of the census data by Justin Feldman, a social epidemiologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. The majority don't have a college degree and some have health issues or cite language barriers that complicate efforts to get vaccinated. 

Acy Grayson III, the owner of a home improvement business he runs out of his home in Cleveland, is among those who had been wanting a vaccine, but couldn't work out the logistics. Mr. Grayson is never quite sure when a job will come along or how long a certain job will take. The unpredictability makes it hard to commit to a time and place to be vaccinated, he told the Times. 

"What might help this situation, is if it was like Domino's Pizza and you could call someone and say, 'Can I get my shot?' And they come give it to you," he said. Mr. Grayson was recently vaccinated after a local church he was hired to do a paint job at was administering the shots, the Times reports. 

"Hesitancy makes a better story because you've got controversy," said Tom Friedman, MD, former director of the CDC. "But there's a bigger problem of access than there is hesitancy," he told the Times

The next phase of President Joe Biden's vaccination campaign will target both the hesitant and those who are "just not sure how to get to where they want to go," he said during a recent news conference. Part of that effort includes a recent federal partnership with ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, which will provide free rides to vaccination sites from May 24 to July 4.


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