Massachusetts has given out a supply of "equity vaccines" to 20 cities across the state in an effort to reach populations who have otherwise had barriers to getting protection from the coronavirus.
In Worcester, a line began forming before 6 a.m. on Saturday at the YMCA, which from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. will administer single-dose Johnson & Johnson shots. At least 200 people had arrived in the line around the time the clinic opened.
Worcester city officials said this morning they have about 2,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available, a higher estimate than the 500 expected earlier.
"When I came over here, I said wow look at all the people, I said I’m glad I came here now cause it would have been longer than this," said Lorenzo Monson, a Worcester resident.
No appointment is required at the site, but anyone wishing to get a dose must live or work in Worcester. They also must fit into at least one category of population disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, including: people of color, immigrants, asylum seekers, undocumented persons, residents with one or more disabilities or people with low access to means of transportation or the internet.
For people who showed up to the site, the convenience made it worth the wait.
"You don’t have to make appointment and its close to my house," said Jill Dogba.
Anyone wishing to get a vaccine at this clinic must also fit under state guidelines, which currently include residents age 55 and over, people with an eligible medical condition or workers aligning with an approved category.
“This is first-come, first-serve which is a little hard, people are lined up … and it might be a long wait, but they don’t have to have an appointment," said Pam Suprenant, the Senior Executive Director at the YMCA.
Both Black and Hispanic populations in the state have been hit hard by the virus. According to the state's coronavirus dashboard, residents identifying as Black or African American, non-Hispanic, or Hispanic have had higher rates of cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 than White, non-Hispanic residents.
Masschusetts is providing this equity allocation weekly to the 20 communities across the Commonwealth, ranging from 400 to 1000 doses based on population, according to the Department of Health's website.
Boston, which receives the full 1,000 doses a week, had as of Friday been allocated a total of 11,020 additional equity vaccine doses.
The full list of communities receiving the doses are Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield and Worcester.
Free COVID-19 testing available in all 20 communities, according to DPH.