The city of Boston's "Day of Hope" saw COVID-19 vaccination events held in the hard-hit communities of Mattapan, Roxbury and East Boston Saturday as experts warn of the more contagious and potent delta variant.
There was entertainment, food and supermarket gift cards for those getting their shot at the clinics, part of a push by Boston officials as state-run mass vaccination sites close and the need for more targeted outreach grows.
Sitting under a tent for a 15-minute observation at the Paris Street Playground in East Boston, surrounded by kids playing with balloon animals and "Despacito" blaring in the background, Jerry Swan said he feels the urge to get vaccinated is political.
"I'll be totally honest with you, I don't wear a mask," he said. "You probably could say I feel safer, but, who knows, you know?"
Swan said he decided to get the vaccine after being bombarded by flyering Boston Public Health Commission workers encouraging him to come to Saturday's clinic. He got the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And he's hoping he won't need a booster.
Ashley Mongeon, a BPHC public health nurse, said even though Massachusetts is one of the most-vaccinated states in the country, efforts have to be made to reach the hardest-hit areas, like her neighborhood of East Boston.
"Having these events shows people the pandemic is not over, COVID is not gone," she said. "We're all tired. But if we can have fun events like this, it doesn't have to be exhausting. It can be getting the community together to make a healthier place to live."
And the music, balloon animals and fun vibes make the effort easier, said Veronica Robles, who sang in Spanish at the East Boston "Day of Hope" event. She runs a nearby Latin American cultural center and said several vaccine-skeptical people who come to the center decided to get their shot because she did.
"Being in a community fosters that relationship, you know, the human part of us is trust," she said. "To the people that live next to you, the people that you see every day, the people that you hang out with. That's the people you trust and I think that's very important."