Boston Mayor Kim Janey and the Boston Public Health Commission hosted events in three of the city's neighborhoods on Saturday to encourage more residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The so-called "Day of Hope" events were held at the Mattapan Community Health Center, the Paris Street playground in East Boston, and the Dennis Street Park in Roxbury. At each event, $50 grocery store gift cards were offered to individuals getting their shots, with the amount increasing to $150 for families getting vaccinated together.
“As we move through an equitable recovery, we remain committed to expanding access to and awareness about the COVID-19 vaccine in our neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” Janey said in a news release announcing the events.
Mattapan is the least vaccinated Boston neighborhood, with only 38-percent of residents having received a COVID-19 shot. It’s a superlative that doesn’t make Mattapan officials proud.
"And it breaks our hearts, it really breaks our hearts, but it makes us work harder. I think one of the main reasons is the amount of misinformation that’s out there," one official said. "We need to be adventurous, we need to be fierce in this advocacy to get the vaccine out. We are optimistic and we are hopeful."
So the vaccination push was on Saturday with free t-shirts, bags and buttons. Mix in the food truck, kids activities, and music, and organizers are hoping events like this will help put the pandemic behind us.
"I think people are very happy that we are here, that we are so close to their community, that we have staff who speak Spanish, French, Haitian creole, that they really feel safe here," one organizer said.
A woman who attended the clinic said, "It’s very important because I’m scared of my life."
With the Delta variant gaining strength in the United States, health officials say if you haven’t received your shot yet, there’s no better time than now.