‘You Can Just Get It Right Now’: A Push To Address Hampden County’s Vaccination Disparities

Workers, including Clarivel Amy (right), at a mobile vaccination site organized by Holyoke Health Center try to convince people to pull into the parking lot outside the Boys and Girls Club in Chicopee, Massachusetts. (Karen Brown/NEPM)

Although Massachusetts has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, Hampden County has the lowest rate in the state — with major racial and ethnic disparities among who is getting the shot.

Local health departments are focused on making the vaccine as visible and convenient as possible for hard-to-reach populations, but that’s often not enough.

On a recent afternoon outside the Boys and Girls Club in Chicopee, a sound system plays festive music under a tent, next to a large bus that says “COVID-19 VACCINE” on the side.

Three volunteers are holding signs near the road, calling out “la vacuna” to passing cars, with the hope they will decide to turn into the parking lot. It looks a little like a car wash fundraiser.

This is an effort by several health organizations to bring the vaccine where it’s needed the most. The seats on the bus have been removed to make room for four vaccination wells, where nurses give the shots.

Read the rest of the story at NEPM’s website.