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Hampden County COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to lag rest of western Massachusetts

Alberto Nieves receives his COVID-19 vaccine at Springfield Technical Community College.
Paris Alston
Alberto Nieves receives his COVID-19 vaccine at Springfield Technical Community College.

A year and a half after COVID-19 shots first became available, vaccination rates in Hampden County remain among the lowest in Massachusetts.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 52% of the population in Hampden County has been vaccinated and boosted.

In western Massachusetts, Hampden trails Berkshire County (58%), Franklin County (62%) and Hampshire County (65%).

As in the rest of the state, Black and Hispanic residents of Hampden County lag the county as a whole in terms of getting vaccinated. That's something a group called Men of Color Health Awareness — or MOCHA — is trying to change.

The non-profit is holding an event in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Saturday. UMass Amherst Associate Professor of Microbiology Wilmore Webley is the featured speaker.

"The goal here is to engage the community and to actually help to educate them on exactly what is happening, especially as it concerns long COVID and the importance of getting full vaccinations," Webley said.

Webley said because of the risks associated with long COVID, those who are fully vaccinated should still avoid situations where they could catch the virus.

Corrected: June 13, 2022 at 9:18 AM EDT
Due to a typo, the original headline of this story said Hampshire County when it should have said Hampden County.
Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.