SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Mass News is your Vaccine Authority.
Springfield officials are struggling to get people vaccinated in the city, but it’s not the number of doses that are the problem.
Appointments are open, but no one's taking them.
Western Mass News is getting answers from local leaders on how they are working with these harder-to-reach communities.
Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said the city is 19 percent behind the vaccination rate of the rest of the state. They’re now figuring out a new approach to get city residents to start booking appointments.
“Our clinics are there, but there is some struggle around getting people to access them,” Caulton-Harris said.
The city of Springfield is falling behind the rest of the state when it comes to the number of people getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to data from Caulton-Harris, around 80,000 people in the city have been given at least one dose of the vaccine. This puts Springfield 19 percent behind the vaccination rate from the rest of the state.
“There is a lot of hesitancy as far as the black and brown communities are concerned in the city of Springfield and across the Commonwealth,” Caulton-Harris said.
A hesitancy that stands out, particularly in the city. The black and brown vaccination rate in Springfield is just over 23 percent, compared to a statewide average of 34.5 percent. The Spanish and white rates in the city also fall below the statewide average.
That’s why a team of local leaders is getting out to try and get to the root of the problem.
“We go door to door to talk to individuals about the vaccine whether or not they’ve been vaccinated or if they plan to get vaccinated. If they don’t plan on getting vaccinated or are hesitant we try to ascertain the reason,” Greater Springfield NAACP President Bishop Talbert Swan said.
Now as more and more Springfield doses are going unused, the White House said if states don’t order all the vaccines allocated to them the administration will redistribute the doses.
Chief Medical Officer of Cooley Dickinson Healthcare Dr. Estevan Garcia said that’s not a position the state wants to see itself in, which is why hesitant people may need more assurance before it’s too late.
“It’s really important for them to see local community members being vaccinated. They need to see their pastor, their minister, their clergy, their priest vaccinated, I need to see their community leaders, their neighbors across the street vaccinated,” Dr. Garcia said.
More Springfield neighborhood vaccine sites are opening Wednesday, which can be found if you click here. Next week, the city's COVID-19 task force will be a meeting with the state's marketing team to find a way to get more people to sign up for a shot.