Chelsea was originally considered one of the “pockets of communities across the state where getting these vaccines in the arm was going to be difficult,” according to Michael Curry, president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. Now, however, 74% of Chelsea residents are fully vaccinated, compared to the state’s 67% average.
Curry joined Boston Public Radio on Monday to share the success story behind Chelsea’s community vaccination model, and other COVID-19 news.
When asked why he believed Chelsea’s vaccination model worked, Curry pointed to the city’s partnerships with local advocacy groups like La Colaborativa. Founded in 1988, the Latinx empowerment organization regularly sends multilingual community health workers door-to-door to assist Chelsea residents with setting up vaccination appointments and applying for rental assistance.
“This pandemic forced us to really collaborate across our different sectors at different boundaries,” Curry said. “And you had East Boston Neighborhood Health Center partnering with community activists and advocates, community organizers, and businesses to do this kind of work. I think quite frankly, that's what moved the needle.”
“We should lift [Chelsea’s vaccination success] up,” Curry added. “Even the Biden administration should lift them up as an example of how to get this done.”
Concerns over the delta variant and the increasing number of employers mandating vaccines may have also helped Chelsea's surge in vaccinations, Curry noted.
“The delta variant, winter ... people are feeling anxiety that vax-shaming and -blaming is at an all time high,” Curry said. “But the reality is, we're doing the real hard work out of health centers, and with community partners and churches and hospital partners across the state. We just need to keep doing that until we get more doses.”
Curry is the president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and a member of Governor Charlie Baker’s COVID Vaccine Advisory Group. He’s also a Member of the National NAACP Board of Directors, and the Chair of the Board’s Advocacy & Policy Committee.