Mobile vaccine clinic reaching out to Boston’s Hispanic community

BOSTON — Luis Cruz, 20, was excited and a little nervous to get his second dose of the vaccine.

“I guess I did have a hesitation. I just wanted an opportunity to get it because it’s a requirement for me to go back to school,” Cruz said

But Cruz said he knows other people in his East Boston neighborhood who are absolutely not going to get the shot.

“We’re finding out that we’re hitting a bump, and many of the community members, particularly in the immigrant community, are still hesitant to be vaccinated for different reasons,” said Patricia Sobalvarro, Executive Director of Agencia ALPHA.

For months Sobalvarro’s organization has been going into Hispanic neighborhoods, urging people to get vaccinated. In the early days of the vaccine distribution, she said it was easy. But months later, her group is finding fewer people eager to be vaccinated.

“Although there’s a lot of information on the internet, they may not necessarily be looking at the right information. They’re listening to the wrong sources,” Sobalvarro said.

According to the Dept. of Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, 30% of the Hispanic population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, the lowest percentage for any ethnic group in Massachusetts.

Friday afternoon, CIC Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Cataldo Ambulance converted New Life Christian Church in East Boston into a mobile vaccine clinic. 183 people, including many Hispanic residents, were registered to receive their second dose.

“Coming from me, from a low-income background, I’m here to say it’s a great opportunity to get [the vaccine],” Cruz said.

Mass General Brigham has held 23 mobile vaccine sites since Apr. 9, according to Dr. Alice Bukhman, Emergency Medicine Physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

“I think that we have met a lot of the pent-up demand, and we’re seeing that a lot of the clinics are not filling up as fast. We’re having to work a little bit harder to reach folks,” Dr. Bukhman said.

The mobile clinic will visit 12 neighborhoods, including Allston, Brighton, Chinatown, Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston, and South End.

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