COVID-19

For people without internet service, getting a vaccination appointment can be difficult

Andy Uhler Mar 26, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
"That internet access problem is actually affecting the people that we need to be vaccinated the most: older people, people of color and other folks who have been traditionally marginalized," said Nicol Turner Lee, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. Mario Tama/Getty Images
COVID-19

For people without internet service, getting a vaccination appointment can be difficult

Andy Uhler Mar 26, 2021
Heard on:
"That internet access problem is actually affecting the people that we need to be vaccinated the most: older people, people of color and other folks who have been traditionally marginalized," said Nicol Turner Lee, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. Mario Tama/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

At his first news conference, President Joe Biden doubled his administration’s vaccine goal to 200 million shots by late April.

For many, scheduling a shot has become a high-stakes, intense undertaking — refreshing laptop screens, setting alerts. And it’s largely done online.

But what about those without internet access? What are their options?

Vivian Ho, a professor of health economics at Rice University in Houston, Texas, said a colleague of hers found out a member of the building’s cleaning crew didn’t have reliable internet access at home. So, Ho’s colleague pulled out a laptop and signed that person up then and there to get vaccinated. Because there aren’t many alternatives.

“You can go to the city’s website to get a phone number, but well, then you need the internet to get that as well,” Ho said.

Appointment systems that rely almost exclusively on the internet ignore that there’s a digital divide in this country, said Nicol Turner Lee, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution.

“That internet access problem is actually affecting the people that we need to be vaccinated the most: older people, people of color and other folks who have been traditionally marginalized,” Turner Lee said.

She said governments need to be willing to bring remote internet access to homeless shelters, elderly care facilities and housing projects to make sure those folks get signed up for a vaccination.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do vaccines mean for economic recovery?

COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon, according to expert witnesses who testified at a recent hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee. Put simply, we can’t eradicate the virus because it infects other species, and there will also be folks who choose not to get the vaccine or don’t mount an immune response, according to Dr. Céline Gounder at NYU School of Medicine & Bellevue Hospital. “That means we can’t only rely on vaccination,” Gounder said. She said the four phases of recovering from the pandemic are ending the emergency, relaxing mitigation measures, getting to herd immunity and having long-term control.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.