MATTAPAN (CBS) – Fewer than 40 percent of residents in Mattapan are vaccinated against COVID-19, well below the city of Boston’s and state of Massachusetts’ averages.

Roughly 39.9 percent of people in Mattapan have gotten their COVID-19 shot, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.

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That’s compared to 70.9% of people in Allston/Brighton vaccinated, 67.1% in Jamaica Plain, and 72.5% in Boston’s South End.

“I considered it for a while,” Gary Mathis told WBZ as he walked down Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan on Wednesday. “The long-lasting effects, like the later on parts is what’s scary,” he added. “Like to find out years, months later that it’s a cause of other things healthwise.”

Health experts have refuted claims that the vaccine could have long-term unknown side effects, explaining that side effects of vaccines are typically known in the first days to weeks.

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Epidemiologists say the vaccine is the single greatest tool we have to fight COVID-19. In neighborhoods where most people are unvaccinated, like Mattapan, it creates the possibility of another large outbreak of COVID-19 with severe disease and death.

“Because when unvaccinated people are in communities with other unvaccinated people, they don’t benefit from that community immunity,” explained Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center. “They are able to transmit to each other and they are able to see that exponential growth or that spread [of COVID-19].”

Now, state and community leaders are making a concerted effort to bring Mattapan‘s numbers up to par with the rest of the city and state. Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey held a virtual meeting to discuss efforts in Mattapan on Wednesday night, focusing on multilingual efforts to reach the community made up largely of immigrants and ways to meet people where they are to encourage them to get the vaccine.

“It’s a very hard message to get across because of course folks still don’t trust government in some ways,” Mattapan‘s state Representative Russell E. Holmes told WBZ.

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He’s also part of the effort to get more people a COVID-19 shot. “I myself have even driven people around to get a shot,” he said. “We have not given up on folks and we are going to do anything we can to get those numbers up to something that is much more in line with the city.”

Kristina Rex