COVID-19 Vaccine Access Remains a Challenge

Survey Results Fielded From Dec. 16 to May 21, 2020

childcare hinders vaccine appointment access

Ellen Lindner / Verywell

Key Themes From Our Survey

  • Overall, vaccine acceptance is still plateauing—it hasn’t grown since early April.
  • Getting vaccinated still remains a challenge for many.
  • As Americans return to pre-pandemic activities, many are now taking care of new and ignored health issues.

Over the last few weeks, COVID-19 vaccine efforts have hit a wall. Even amidst a nationwide push for incentives, the number of shots administered daily is stagnant.

The latest Verywell Health Vaccine Sentiment Tracker shows that overall acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine, the proportion of those surveyed who have or would get vaccinated, has not increased since early April. 

Americans are still getting vaccinated—64% of those who participated in our latest survey have gotten their shot, and 11% still want to. But, the number of unvaccinated Americans who say they do not plan to get vaccinated hasn't budged.

Many of the people that aren't vaccinated yet are having trouble accessing the vaccine. Making the vaccine convenient and easy to get remains a hurdle that the Biden administration is racing to address.

The data presented in this article is from twelve surveys of 2,000 Americans asked about their thoughts and feelings towards getting the COVID-19 vaccines. We collected the latest data for the week ending on May 14. Our survey sample highlighted four types of respondents based on their answer to whether or not they’d get an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine if it were free and available: 

  • Acceptors: Those who would agree to be vaccinated
  • Rejectors: Those who would not agree to take a vaccine
  • Undecideds: Those who don’t know if they would take a vaccine
  • Vaccinated: Those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination

Many Still Struggle to Access COVID Vaccines

Of those who have yet to get vaccinated, many are deterred by lack of access. Nearly 1 in 4 of those surveyed who are unvaccinated (23%) say it’s too inconvenient to schedule an appointment. 

People who care for others—like parents and caregivers—are especially struggling to make time for an appointment and potential side effects. Parents and caregivers were more likely to say it was a challenge to get a vaccine for themselves.

To combat this, the Biden administration just announced partnerships with four major childcare companies to offer parents free care on the day of their appointments. These partnerships are part of the National Month of Action, an initiative designed to get at least one vaccine dose to 70% of U.S. adults by July 4.

However, this day of free care may not help parents working non-traditional hours, like night shifts. And it isn’t an option for those who act as caregivers for other adults. 

People Are Seeking Non-COVID Health Care

Despite the fact that about half of the population still needs to get a first vaccine dose, for many Americans, the pandemic is on the downswing. Now, they’re turning their attention to other health issues. Many people delayed care during the pandemic.

As a result, the healthcare industry is likely to see a spike in demand for treatment unrelated to COVID. These will likely be for routine check-ups. Forty-four percent of our respondents say they plan on going to the doctor.

Some respondents developed new medical issues over the course of the past year, whether physical or mental, that will need care and attention. Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) say their health is worse off than before the pandemic. Our survey respondents report experiencing body aches and pains, headaches, and insomnia.

Younger Americans (people between the ages of 18 and 24) are much more likely to have experienced these problems than older Americans.

And beyond physical health, healthcare providers will need to address an onslaught of mental health issues. The younger generation is also more likely to be stressed compared to older Americans. A third of those millennials or younger say they’ve been overall very stressed in the last 30 days. This number is half as much for the Boomers or older group (13%).

These findings are in line with Verywell Mind’s recent survey, which found that young people, specifically Gen Z, are currently experiencing more mental health issues than other generations. It's a pivotal moment for getting people the mental health help they need to adjust to life after the pandemic. But mental health professionals may struggle to meet this demand. 

A Word From Verywell

The last year was challenging and stressful for most people. Feeling anxious about returning to public life is completely valid. If it's interfering with your quality of life, consider talking to a mental health professional.

Accessing mental health care can be difficult to navigate. If you're unsure where to start you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). They can refer you to local treatment in your area free of charge, every day of the year, 24/7.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, dial 988 to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect with a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.


The Verywell Vaccine Sentiment Tracker is a biweekly measurement of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors around COVID-19 and the vaccine. The survey is fielded online every other week. The total sample matches U.S. Census estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and region. It consisted of 1,000 Americans from December 16, 2020, until February 26, 2020, after which the sample size increased to 2,000 per wave.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

By Jennifer Welsh
Jennifer Welsh is a Connecticut-based science writer and editor with over ten years of experience under her belt. She’s previously worked and written for WIRED Science, The Scientist, Discover Magazine, LiveScience, and Business Insider.