America is getting unvaccinated people all wrong

Yong: I’m glad you raised the issue of access. Everyone age 12 and up is now eligible for vaccines, and President Biden promised that 90 percent of people would have a vaccination site within five miles of their home. I’ve heard many people doubt that vaccine access is still an issue and, by extension, that anyone who is still unvaccinated must be hesitant or resistant. Do you disagree?

Boyd: Availability and access aren’t the same thing. If you have to walk the five miles, you’re going to rethink getting vaccinated, especially if you’re elderly, or you have chronic disease, or the round trip is interfering with other things like work. [Much of] our paid workforce doesn’t have flexibility about hours, or couldn’t take a day off if they wanted to. And if you don’t have paid sick leave to deal with the vaccine or the potential side effects of the second dose, you’ll skip it because feeding your family is more important right now.

Child care is also an enormous issue. If you don’t have someone to watch your children, then what do you do? Many of these things the Biden administration has tried to address. They have programs involving Uber and Lyft. Child-care organizations have signed on to help with vaccine appointments. There are tax breaks for companies that offer paid sick leave. These are incredible, but they may not filter down to your area. We need to think about local interventions to help stretch them.