To overcome hesitancy and reach herd immunity, we may have to treat vaccination like a political campaign.
A few weeks ago, I learned I’d qualified for a Covid-19 vaccine. I began devoting my days to shot chasing. I joined local vaccine-hunting groups on Facebook, where members reported driving all over the state to get their jab, and I preregistered for state-run mass vaccination sites. A week later, I received a text message from the preregistration service: Was I available that Saturday? Hell, yes. I happily drove for an hour to a drive-in site.
But the next day, I called a friend, Salvador, who lives in the same county as I do and has the same medical condition, although his is more severe. Had he gotten his shot, too? He hadn’t. In fact, he didn’t even know he was eligible. He didn’t know where to sign up, or where the sites were. When he later tried to book an appointment, the only available slot was during his work hours. He desperately wants the vaccine, because he lives with his elderly parents and their jobs all require them to work in person. But, he says, he’ll just have to wait.
“It’s ridiculous how you’ve got to really go out of your way to get this vaccine,” he said. He found a few spots two and a half hours away, but he couldn’t spend the day driving. “The working class in general has to go out of their way just to be immunized, in order to work in a safer environment.”
We are in the midst of the most ambitious and sweeping vaccination program in history. Every week, we smash records, with millions of Americans vaccinated daily. But soon, this dramatic curve upward in the charts is going to falter, in large part because of access. So far, states have done an incredible job at immunizing people like me, who can drive hours at the drop of a hat to be vaccinated. But for all the talk of people refusing the vaccine for ideological reasons, there is in fact a significant portion of the population who want the vaccine and aren’t able to get it—because the sites are too far away and they don’t have a car; because they can’t take off work to find, go to, and recover from vaccine appointments; because they didn’t know they were eligible in the first place. And frequently, in heartbreaking irony, they are the very people who are most vulnerable to Covid-19. Read more at The New Republic.
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