New Bedford is the country's largest commercial fishing port and has the largest collection of seafood processing plants in the United States.

But these two accolades also create some unusual circumstances for the city when it comes to reaching and vaccinating those communities.

This past weekend, New Bedford held a vaccine clinic specifically geared towards those working in these industries. More are planned for this week.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said the city made a push with workers, as well as their employers.

"One of the big barriers to vaccine uptake, not just here in New Bedford but everywhere, is the fact that shift workers just have a harder time, for reasons that everyone can understand, getting away from work and going to a vaccine appointment," Mitchell said. "If you're a professional, if you're a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant, it's no matter just to go break away from your work for an hour to go get your shot. But if you're on a shift, and you are, like many shift workers, given two specififed periods of the day to take a break, you can't readily get away to get a shot."

Mitchell said although the state has paused the administering of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for now, the clinics will continue with other available vaccines.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., visited New Bedford last week as the clinic was being organized and set up. He said it's critically important that all vulnerable populations have access to shots, regardless of race or income.

"The disparities in vaccine distribution are crystal clear," Markey said. "And we need to do better. We can do better. We cannot turn our backs on these communities that continue to shoulder the burden of the pandemic."

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full episode.


Sen. Ed Markey - 2:13
Mayor Jon Mitchell - 14:16

An earlier version of this story misidentified New Bedford as the country's largest commercial shipping port. It is the largest fishing port.