East Boston’s total COVID cases represent roughly 10 percent of all the cases in the City of Boston. So it is no secret that the neighborhood has been hit particularly hard by the year’s long pandemic.
Now there’s a push both by the city and other health care providers to reach traditionally underserved communities like Eastie and ensure more and more of the population is vaccinated against the virus.
Last week Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care kicked off “Mobile Vax”, an effort to vaccinate more people among Black and Brown Communities and non-English speaking populations in Eastie.
The Mobile Vax van spent the day in Central Square Saturday giving hundreds of Eastie residents their first COVID vaccination shot.
The initiative is supported by The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) and Last Mile Vaccine Delivery, a new public/private partnership service that aims to accelerate vaccine distribution.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities and it is critical that these communities have easy access to vaccines,” said CEO of the combined organization of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Tom Croswell, “By bringing mobile vaccination clinics directly into the community, this collaboration is removing obstacles to accessing these life-saving vaccines.”
EBNHC Senior Vice President and COO Greg Wilmot said this collaboration brings the COVID-19 vaccine directly to the hardest hit communities.
“It underscores that equity is a priority for us and that we’re committed to finding new and creative ways to reach our community,” he said.
The Latino Equity Fund (LEF), the only philanthropic Latinx-focused fund in Massachusetts and an affiliate of The Boston Foundation, facilitated its connections to work with the combined organizations of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim to offer vaccine access to Eastie and help overcome vaccine hesitancy.
“Many Latino families will not be able to take time off from work to stand in line at a mass vaccination center, but if you bring the vaccine to them, then people will be more comfortable being vaccinated,” said Vice President and Corporate Business Diversity Officer at the combined organization of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Juan Lopera. Lopera is also Co-Chair of the Latino Equity Fund. “We have an opportunity to increase vaccine access in hard-hit, underserved communities while contracting with minority-owned firms to bring culturally-relevant resources to help families register.”