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LYNN — The COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute distributed its final dose last week, after assisting the community with providing more than 79,000 doses since it opened its doors on Feb. 1.
With the closure of this site, which was the largest in the city, the mobile vaccination effort is taking over.
Vaccines are still being distributed at the Lynn Community Health Center, located at 269 Union St., during the week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; all three types of vaccines will be on offer.
Vaccines are also being distributed through the mobile vaccination program, which brings the vaccines to locations around the area — primarily in places of worship — to distribute them to members of the community.
Marita Gove, a nurse practitioner and the clinical lead for Lynn Community Health Center’s (LCHC) vaccine program, said they are still consistently giving around 300 vaccines per week, between mobile efforts and the smaller-scale vaccine clinic on Union Street.
As for the mobile effort, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday, it relies upon a team of 30 staff members split into two groups: a community engagement team and the mobile vaccine operation.
The community engagement team is conducting targeted and non-targeted canvassing strategies through the city through door-to-door canvassing and business and community organization visits.
The mobile vaccine operation uses a van to transport resources, staff and patients to vaccination sites.
Rosie Conway, who is leading the mobile vaccination effort for LCHC, said the mobile vaccine unit’s locations are determined by criteria based on COVID-19 positivity rates and vaccine rates within the seven wards in the city. She said LCHC began their canvassing and mobile vaccine visits in Ward 4, because that’s where the highest COVID-19 positivity rates were at that time.
The recurring mobile vaccinations occur five days a week in Wards 3, 4, 5 and 6 and the location of the mobile vaccinations depends on where the organizations that LCHC partners with are located.
“It’s really dependent on who was committed to this long-term project,” Conway said.
The goal of the vaccination effort at LCHC, Gove said, is to find a way to get through to as many people as possible, whether it’s hearing from their provider, someone they trust on their medical team or friends or family reassuring them that it’s safe to get vaccinated.
“We’re really trying to get people from all different angles so we can try to figure out what’s making them a little more hesitant,” Gove said.
At the Tech site, Gove said, the staff mostly encountered people who were highly motivated to get vaccinated. But now that most of those people have already been vaccinated, LCHC found that it had to change course to reach people who are hesitant for multiple reasons, which emphasizes the importance of the canvassing team.
Gove said they are seeing a small increase in volume and interest in people who were initially hesitant. She said these people are now ready for the vaccine after what they’ve been hearing about the increased positivity numbers and the severity of the Delta variant.
“We’ve seen folks who have been motivated just by what they’ve heard about the kind of rate of protection from COVID-19, specifically Delta, with vaccinations,” Gove said.
Although the vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, and there’s still much research going into new cases, variants and breakthroughs, Gove said numbers show that states with higher vaccination rates — including Massachusetts — have fewer new cases than states with lower vaccination rates.
“I think that gives us a lot of confidence to say to our community members that we’re still doing a lot of research, but we can say fairly confidently that getting a vaccine is definitely safer than not,” Gove said. “Even folks who are experiencing these breakthrough cases have much milder courses of illness. They’re not being hospitalized and they’re not dying. The vaccine is certainly protecting people from those severe symptoms that we’re trying to avoid.”
The mobile vaccines will also visit the North Shore Community College parking lot this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for anyone in the community.
More information can be found online at https://www.lchcnet.org.
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