A clinically successful vaccine must also be socially acceptable and readily accessible if it is going to make an actual difference in people’s lives and aid effective epidemic management. Despite its valuable biotechnological achievements, Operation Warp Speed exhibited a key social blind spot believing that, “If we build it, they will come.” Current and past experiences in routine and crisis contexts show that for a variety of reasons, not all segments of the public want to, or are able to take advantage of life-saving vaccines. This talk will relate lessons learned from CommuniVax about the importance of understanding and planning for the human factors—including understandings of disease, perceptions of risk, and social factors affecting access—that shape vaccination efforts during a public health emergency. CommuniVax is a national coalition of social scientists, public health experts, and community advocates who seek to strengthen national and local COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the United States by putting communities of color at the center. The coalition is also supporting communities in exercising their agency over their own health and wellness, during this pandemic and going forward.