Coronavirus

As Holidays Near, Cambridge Clinic Offers COVID Vaccine, $75 Gift Cards

People who received an initial or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at CambridgeSide Thursday also got some money to help with their holiday shopping

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People receiving initial or booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at a clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also got some money ahead of the holidays.

There was a long line at CambridgeSide Thursday night as people waited for the vaccine and the $75 that came with it.

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"I wanted a COVID booster, and I also wanted a $75 gift card," said Meghan Odom.

The money is nice, but people tell us they also want peace of mind with the holidays approaching.

"I was overdue for it," said Francesca Holinko. "And yeah, I do feel safer going into the holidays with it, I think it's a good thing."

The White House said Thursday it's preparing for a COVID surge this winter as people spend more time indoors with the colder weather and celebrate the holidays in larger groups.

The government is resuming its popular program of mailing out free COVID test kits as part of its national plan, which also calls for local communities to hold more pop-up vaccine clinics like the one Cambridge sponsored Thursday night at Cambridgeside.

"We are a pretty well-vaccinated community, but we can always do better," said Anna Kaplan, epidemiologist for the Cambridge Public Health Department. "There are a lot of people whose last vaccines were over a year ago, so we really want to make sure people get boosted before the holidays."

The city offered up 800 vaccines, both for people who'd never been vaccinated, and for people looking for the omicron-specific booster. The $75 was an added bonus.

"I thought it was really important to provide an incentive," said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. "The holidays can be tough, and a $75 gift card, that's a significant amount for some people, and we really wanted that to be an incentive."

As for the COVID test kits being offered up by the government, people can start registering for them online as of Thursday, and they'll start being shipped out next week.

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