Some of the Massachusetts communities that have felt the heaviest impact from the COVID-19 pandemic will be targeted by a new outreach program for vaccine awareness and access.
Gov. Charlie Baker's administration announced an initiative Tuesday to help the 20 cities and towns most disproportionately affected by coronavirus. The Department of Public Health will work with local leaders and others in the communities to help overcome barriers to get residents vaccinated.
The communities include Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield and Worcester.
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All of the cities and towns were prioritized using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Social Vulnerability Index, officials said. Average daily case rates, excluding cases in long-term care and correctional facilities, were also a factor. Only communities with at least 30,000 residents were included.
"We recognize the deep knowledge and expertise that exists in every community and our aim is to listen, respond, and work in concert to develop a customized approach for reaching as many residents as we can to increase vaccination," Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. "This approach is centered on equity, a core pillar of our vaccine distribution. Our goal is to work in collaboration with our local communities, to meet people where they are, and to reduce barriers – both physical and otherwise — to getting the COVID vaccine."
Additionally, the Baker administration invested $1 million in the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to support vaccination in historically underserved communities.