Destination: Vaccination

MBTA, state and others join in ‘Vax Express’ train clinic

BOSTON — Officially, it is called the Vax Express -- a joint effort between the MBTA, the state, Keolis and others -- to bring COVID-19 vaccine clinics directly to communities that need them the most.

Clinics, that is, aboard commuter trains.

First stop Wednesday -- the Blue Hill Avenue Station on the Fairmount Line, where for four hours vaccine specialists from CIC welcomed walk-ins and those with appointments with doses of either the Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson products.

“When I first came down here I was calling that the love train,” Organizer Marilyn Forman of the Fairmount Indigo Transit Coalition, said. “Because there’s nothing like being able to go and hug a family member or friend you haven’t seen in awhile. And if we made it through this then we need to celebrate in that kind of fashion.”

Family love was on the mind of 19-year-old Okang Bynoe, who said he was unsure of the risks of the vaccine.

So, why did he finally relent? One of the reasons was the man who brought him to the clinic.

“I have grandparents and I want to keep them safe,” Bynoe said.

“Specifically, here in Mattapan ‚we are still working to increase our vaccination rates and we still have relatively high positivity rates,” said Mattapan State Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley. “And so I’m really grateful for this initiative.”

It’s an initiative that hopes to not only reach the vaccine hesitant -- but also those who feel they lack easy access to vaccination sites.

“We easily just walked on up walked on in and got serviced,” said Donere Johnson of Mattapan, who was there to get her 12-year-old daughter, Journey, immunized for summer camp. “If people want to get vaccinated you need to put it in the communities where they’re able to get to it.”

And with big sites, such as Gillette Stadium, closing down over the next several weeks, smaller efforts, such as this one, will swell in importance as pockets of unvaccinated residents remain.

The Vax Express is scheduled, in the coming days, to head to other undervaccinated communities including Worcester, Lowell, Lawrence and Fitchburg.