In the last week, my social media feeds have been full of stories about vaccine access issues. Even though the updated COVID-19 vaccines are supposed to be free—either covered by insurance plans or by a federal program—people keep getting bills. Or their vaccine appointments are canceled unexpectedly. Or they can’t get an appointment at all.
Some news outlets have covered these access challenges, but far more attention is needed. The new vaccines are the U.S. government’s only real strategy to curb a likely COVID-19 surge this winter, now that masks, testing, and other tools are far less available. It is absolutely crucial that as many people get vaccinated as possible, and any barriers to those vaccinations deserve front-page headlines.
The COVID-19 Data Dispatch may not have the reach of an established national media outlet, but with the help of all of you readers, we can help draw more attention to this massive problem. If you have had a hard time getting an updated COVID-19 shot, please share your experience: you can use this Google form, email me, or reach out on social media (Twitter, Bluesky, Mastodon).
You can share your vaccination experience anonymously or attach your name, location, or other details, if you’d like. (There are no required fields on the Google form.) Next week, I’ll publish the responses in a public database on the CDD website. My hope is that this compilation can show how widespread these vaccine access issues are, and can serve as a resource for other journalists who might be interested in covering the problem.
Also, a PSA: if a pharmacy or doctor’s office tries to charge you for a COVID-19 vaccine, remind them that the vaccines are free. You can refer them to the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, which will pay for any vaccinations not covered by insurance.