In Boston's Least Vaccinated Neighborhood, Community Outreach Efforts Are Ongoing

Just 38% of Mattapan residents are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, according to Boston's data, and advocates are working to change that

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City officials are strategizing about how to reach residents of Mattapan, the Boston neighborhood with the lowest vaccination rate.

According to city data, only 38% of Mattapan residents were fully vaccinated as of June 29. It is a stark contrast to Boston's South End neighborhood, where over 70% have been fully vaccinated.

Those working in outreach said the hesitancy is due to a combination of factors. They blame language barriers, misinformation and — up until recently — a lack of accessibility.

They are working hard to overcome those barriers. On Wednesday, they had a pop-up clinic at a Hatian community center because many in Mattapan are immigrants.

"We're trying to reach people where they are, where they're comfortable. One day, it's a no, then it's a maybe and then it's a yes," said Dr. Cyril Ubeim, who runs the clinic through Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center.

Mattapan resident Michael Alexander is helping with the initiative. He spent the day canvassing the street Wednesday, trying to convince hold-outs.

"I think it does make a difference to see someone who lives in the neighborhood because a lot of people ask me if I've been vaccinated and I tell them yes," Alexander said.

Making it convenient to get the shot is also the goal of the Vax Express. The commuter rail train with shots on board stopped in Mattapan for a second time Wednesday. Gift cards were also provided as an incentive.

"The question is will it be enough to change their minds. You never know if it's going to be VaxMillions, going to a barbershop or a family member getting sick," said Rep. Russell Holmes, D-Mattapan.

Charles Obeas, a Mattapan resident, got his shot on board the Vax Express. Even though he has lost several friends to the virus, he was on the fence about getting the shot until he heard about the variants.

"COVID is getting stronger, so I hope this helps," Obeas said.

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