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Public Health Commission urges caution during holidays

Free vaccination clinics, testing sites throughout city

Boston Public Health Commission
Public Health Commission urges caution during holidays
The Boston Public Health Commission is offering free COVID vaccinations at the Bolling Building and other sites. BANNER PHOTO

The Boston Public Health Commission is strongly recommending that residents take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the flu, and other transmissible illnesses during their holiday celebrations this week. 

COVID-19 and influenza remain a concern throughout Boston. The level of virus causing COVID-19 in local wastewater samples is high, COVID-19 cases diagnosed via PCR are up by 11% over the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have increased 31% over the past week and 72% over the past two weeks. The flu continues to spread throughout our communities at a very high rate – with 886 cases reported last week (12/10-12/16/2022). Both COVID-19 and flu can result in severe illness particularly among those who are at higher risk, and respiratory viral infection has caused increased strain on Boston’s hospitals.  

“The holidays are an important time to gather and celebrate with loved ones. However, with high rates of COVID-19 and flu in Boston, it’s important we all take precautions to protect ourselves and others,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “We’re asking people to plan accordingly by testing prior to gatherings, staying home if they are sick, masking indoors, and staying up to date with their COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.”  

In early December, the CDC approved the use of the omicron-specific bivalent boosters for children ages 6-months to 5-years-old. BPHC is urging all eligible residents to get the updated booster to ensure a strong immune response against the COVID-19 virus and its variants. Bivalent booster uptake has slowed significantly in recent weeks, and only 13% of residents have received it, including just 17.9% of those over the age at 65 who are at higher risk for severe infection, suggesting many are vulnerable for infection at a very critical time.  

In partnership with the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, BPHC has established several pop-up vaccination clinics around the city that provide free COVID-19 testing, vaccines, boosters and flu vaccines. Each site is offering $75 gift cards to those who get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster while supplies last as part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Vaccine Equity Initiative. Free rapid test kits are available at each pop-up location. We encourage residents to obtain rapid antigen test kits for use during the holidays.  

Clinics will take place at the following locations: 

·        BCYF Condon Community Center, 200 D St., South Boston  

o   Tuesday, December 27 from 4:30-7:30pm.  

·        BCYF Shelburne Community Center, 2730 Washington St., Roxbury  

o   Wednesday, December 28 from 4:30-7:30pm.  

·        BCYF Roslindale Community Center, 6 Cummins Way, Roslindale  

o   Thursday, December 29 from 4:30-7:30pm. 

·        BCYF Menino Community Center, 125 Brookway Rd., Roslindale  

o   Friday, December 30 from 4:30-7:30pm.   

 

BPHC also offers several standing vaccination and testing sites in Boston to ensure communities have reliable access to these resources. Seventy-five-dollar gift cards will be available at all sites beginning next week, and rapid antigen test kits are available at these sites while supplies last, as well. Holiday hours of operation are:  

·        BCYF Hyde Park, 1179 River St., Hyde Park – No closures 

o   Open Tuesdays from 12-8 pm and Thursdays from 9 am-5 pm.  

·        Lena Park Community Development Corporation, 150 American Legion Hwy., Dorchester.  

o   Friday, December 23 – open from 9:30am to 12pm; no PCR testing.  

o   Sunday, December 25 – Closed.  

o   Monday, December 26 – Closed.   

o   Wednesday, December 28 – open from 11am to 7pm; PCR testing available.  

o   Friday, December 30 – open from 9:30am to 12pm; no PCR testing.  

o   Sunday, January 1 – Closed. 

o   Monday, January 2 – Closed.  

·        Josephine Fiorentino Community Center, 123 Antwerp St.  

o   Sunday, December 25 – Closed. 

o   Monday, December 26 – Closed. 

o   Tuesday, December 27 – open from 9am-3pm.  

o   Wednesday, December 28 – open from 9am-3pm. 

o   Thursday, December 29 – open from 5-9pm.  

o   Sunday, January 1 – Closed. 

o   Monday, January 2 – Closed. 

·        Bruce C. Bolling Building, 2302 Washington St., Roxbury.   

o   Friday, December 23 – open from 12-8pm; no PCR testing. 

o   Saturday, December 24 – Closed. 

o   Tuesday, December 27 – open from 12-8pm; PCR testing available. 

o   Thursday, December 29 – open from 12-8pm; PCR testing available. 

o   Friday, December 30 – open from 12-8pm; no PCR testing. 

o   Saturday, December 31 – Closed.  

o   Tuesday, January 3 – open from 12-8pm; PCR testing available.  

·        Boston City Hall, 1 City Hall Sq., Boston.  

o   Monday, December 26 – Closed  

o   Wednesday, December 28 – open from 12-5pm.  

o   Monday, January 2 – Closed.  

All BPHC sponsored vaccine and testing sites offer free services to everyone ages 6-months and older. No appointments or IDs are required.

BPHC continues to encourage residents to take precautions for their holiday celebrations including testing before and after attending a gathering and staying home when sick or testing positive for COVID-19. All individuals ages 6-months and older should stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters and get their annual flu vaccination to ensure the broadest level of protection against these viruses. BPHC strongly recommends residents wear well-fitted, high-quality masks indoors, especially when travelling, to protect against the spread of respiratory viruses. Residents are also encouraged to limit the size of gatherings and to promote proper ventilation by keeping windows open, when possible, particularly if you are an older adult or have a health condition that increases your risk of severe COVID-19. 

For more information about COVID-19 in Boston, vaccines, boosters, and testing, visit [boston.gov/covid19]boston.gov/covid19.  

COVID surge, COVID testing, COVID vaccination
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