Vaccine hesitation across the commonwealth

BOSTON — A week after Gov. Charlie Baker announced he’d give $100 million in aid to four hard-hit Baystate communities short-changed in the federal American Rescue Plan, he, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, and a local delegation of advocates and elected leadership toured Chelsea’s La Colabortiva’s vaccination site in a show of support.

Top of the agenda-- a warning to those planning gatherings this Easter weekend.

“I urge you to please, make the right choice, and if you’re not able to make that choice for you, make it for that family member, that grandmother that wants to give you a hug,” says La Colaborativa’s Gladys Vega.

She and East Boston Neighborhood Health Center President & CEO Manny Lopes announced an expansion of their vaccination efforts in hard-hit communities--including more outreach programming in partnership with the state to address access and hesitancy.

“Don’t be afraid of the vaccination. Be afraid of COVID-19 that has taken so many lives from us,” says Vega.

But recent data shows while vaccine hesitancy is still an issue in communities of color, a Suffolk University/Boston Globe survey found Baystate white Republicans are among the most likely group to say they do not plan to get a vaccine.

The March Kaiser Foundation poll found about three in ten Republicans and White Evangelicals say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine...one in five adults living in rural areas say the same.

Baker tells Boston 25 the state’s outreach programming in places like Chelsea, Everett and Brockton will help.

“I think when it comes to other parts of our Commonwealth, Republican, white, men, I think it’s gonna be the same game. I think it’s gonna be because their neighbor to their co-workers got it, or their doctor reaches out to them and says they really need to get vaccinated. It’s gonna be that sort of message that’s gonna move them.”

Baker announced more than 100,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive in Massachusetts next week.

They are not expecting delays after supplier Emergent BioSolutions’ announced 15 million doses of vaccine were spoiled in processing.

“‘There are a million people who have preregistered to get vaccinated by the state and we haven’t had any trouble with our regional collaboratives filling every single slot they have,” he says.

Meantime disparities in vax access remain. According to the state’s weekly vaccine report - 71 residents who have received one dose of the vaccine administered by the state are white, 7% black, 12% Latinx.

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