Addressing vaccination concerns and hesitancy in Chelsea

The Chelsea Project was successful in supporting Chelsea to shift from being the epicenter of the pandemic in March 2020 to having the second highest vaccination rate among highly vulnerable cities by June 2021. Part of our success was due to community-based participatory research that we conducted among Chelsea residents to understand questions and concerns they had about COVID vaccination. 

In June 2021 while over half of Chelsea residents had been vaccinated, we were observing numbers stagnating. We wanted to understand better who was delaying vaccination, why, and what we could do about it. With the results of this survey, we aimed to design messaging and programs that could address residents’ concerns and achieve higher rates of community immunity. We found that those who had not yet been vaccinated were under 30 years old, and were waiting to see if any negative impacts developed among those who were immunized. To learn more about who was delaying COVID vaccination and why look below.


By February 2022 Chelsea had reached a population vaccination rate of 89%. While most adult cohorts have adult vaccination rates of over 95%, children from 5-11 still had low uptake rates. On February 14, 2022, 54% of children had received the first dose and 31% had received a second dose.¬† In order to better understand barriers and concerns around vaccinating children, we conducted three focus groups with mothers of children ages 5-11 in February 2022. We learned that the majority of mothers had been vaccinated themselves and in general felt that they had made the correct decision. However, mothers were concerned about whether or not the vaccine had enough evidence to be deemed safe for young children. The majority of mothers stated that while they fully intend to vaccinate their children, they are waiting until they believe it is safe. To learn more about parents’ perceptions of childhood vaccination, look below.