Doctors go door-to-door at housing units asking who doesn't have vaccine shot yet

BOSTON — Pauline Grey says she wanted to get vaccinated but didn’t know where, when or how.

“I tried Reggie Lewis and other places but everywhere was filled up,” said Grey, 75.

Then Friday, she got a surprise knock.

“That was the best because I didn’t have to travel anywhere. I just come downstairs,” said Grey. “And the doctor, he was so kind and compassionate, he came upstairs knocking on doors. Who does that?”

Dr. Alister Martin, an emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, does.

“It’s not chalked up all to hesitancy,” said Dr. Martin. “The average income for these units is under $17,000 per household. Sixty percent of these folks are disabled. English is not, when you look at everybody in that building, is not the majority of languages that are spoken. These folks have trouble navigating the system. Many of them are old. Many of them are not going to be able to navigate a website.”

Doctors across MGH and BMC started the Get Out The Vax or GotVax campaign after realizing the difference in demographics between where the sickest patients were and the communities getting vaccinated first.

“We target folks who may not be able to make it to Reggie Lewis Center, folks who may not be able to get in an Uber and go down to Mass General go down and BMC,” said Dr. Martin. “There were so many folks that I met just this last Friday, who told me ‘Doc, if you weren’t here, I would not get this vaccine.’”

Boston Housing Authority showed them where to go and South End Community Health Center provided the doses, and the doctors did the rest.

“I’m 75 years old and I had open-heart surgery two years ago and if that can help me live a little longer I am willing to do it,” said Grey. “It was painful but it was worth it.”

Before she went downstairs to get vaccinated she told the doctor: “Wait a minute, let me make sure my neighbor knows about this.” Then she woke her neighbor up and brought him along. She says that neighbors would not have gotten vaccinated if not for them.

GotVax has already been to four locations and vaccinated hundreds of qualified residents with a one-shot dose of the J&J vaccine.

This Friday, they will be at 80 West Dedham St, Boston, MA 02118 at 9 a.m.

They hope to continue every week at new locations and they also hope this program catches on nationally to help get vaccines to the most vulnerable.

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