I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in early February and have an appointment next week to receive my second. (It’s one of the benefits of being older.)

I’m also painfully aware that access to the vaccine and roll-out protocol vary widely by state, city, county and zip code. In fact, a disproportionate number of vaccinations are going to white people.

Although low-income communities of color and frontline workers have been the hardest hit, health officials say that people from wealthier, primarily white neighborhoods have been inundating appointment systems and taking the lion’s share of the limited supply.

I’ve talked with neighbors, relatives, friends and clients from other states who qualify for the vaccine but can’t find appointments. It took me hours of calling my local health department and navigating several websites before I was able to secure a coveted appointment.

Not only has this been frustrating and exhausting, but it’s also uncovering—once again—our country’s racial and socioeconomic disparities.

As I write this, only 11% of Americans have received one or two doses of the vaccine. This leaves far too many to confront their anxieties and fears. Hesitancy is a great barrier to getting the vaccine, whether prompted by fear, mistrust or skepticism.

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School, wrote in a New York Times editorial, “Fear of the vaccine may be the greatest barrier to stopping COVID-19 …  About half of Americans harbor questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines; 39 percent say they definitely or probably won’t get one.”

What’s fueling these fears. Is it a mistrust of vaccines? Misinformation. Misleading claims?

At some point, priorities will likely shift. Instead of providing vaccines to those who qualify for them, they will focus on those who are reluctant to get them. I’ve heard that some people are biding their time, waiting to see if there will be negative reactions.

Some businesses with frontline workers are offering employees incentives to get the vaccines. It’s also possible that some employers will require vaccinations sometime down the road. At this point, there’s no clear consensus on requiring vaccines.

Building trust and confidence in the vaccine will be essential to moving forward. Greater availability of the vaccine, easier access to appointments and equitable distribution are also critical.

If you would like help coping with the frustration and anxiety while waiting for the vaccine, please contact your EAP. This benefit can help you sort through the conflicting thoughts and emotions that are likely to arise.

To learn more about the FEI EAP,  please contact us.