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Aug 15
City and Community Health Centers Increase Food Access for Residents

​The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced today that four community health centers have increased food access through Boston REACH:PHH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health: Partners in Health & Housing), a four-year initiative that works to reduce racial and ethnic differences in health among public housing residents. ​

The announcement was made during National Health Center Week, which runs from August 13 to 19 of this year and celebrates health centers as the key to healthier communities. Increasing food access is a priority for health centers, which provide vital health services and promote health and wellness within their communities.

The work to increase access to healthy foods builds on existing efforts and partnerships between BPHC, Boston Housing Authority (BHA), South End Community Health Center, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Upham's Corner Health Center, and Whittier Street Health Center.

The four community health centers have incorporated Children's HealthWatch validated questions to their workflow to screen for food insecurity. The implementation of these questions has resulted in 28 percent of patients screened being referred to local food resources, more than 565 food insecurity screenings, and over 7,174 food transactions through nonprofit food vendors. 

"We are grateful to work with community health centers on addressing health inequities that result from issues like food insecurity which impact our most vulnerable populations," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "Increasing access to healthy food is a citywide priority that requires a comprehensive approach, and the community health centers have had measurable success at combatting food insecurity."

In addition to partnering with nonprofit food vendors Fresh Truck and Fair Foods to increase access to fresh, healthy and affordable food options, other efforts include:

  • Upham's Corner Health Center (UCHC) partnering with BPHC's Violence Intervention & Prevention (VIP) Neighborhood Coalitions to increase awareness about food resources through door knocking.

  • Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center (SJPHC) developing a "How we do it"video in collaboration with South Street Youth Center, which illustrates the challenges families face with accessing healthy and affordable food. They have conducted a number of Cooking Matter classes, and batch classes where families learn how to prepare healthy meals on a budget and leave with an entire week of ready to eat food.

  • Whittier Street Health Center (WSHC) hosting weekly coffee hours in BHA developments to inform residents about available food resources. Their initiative is informed by a youth advisory board consisting of youth from Whittier Street development across the street. 

  • South End Community Health Center (SECHC) providing bilingual recipes and other food resources at their weekly Fresh Truck site to encourage greater fruit and vegetable-based meals and snacks, paired with over 5,261 Fresh Truck coupon vouchers across 17 months.

"Community health centers continue to be the health system's problem-solvers, looking behind patients' medical charts to address the factors that influence their overall health and well-being," said James W. Hunt, Jr., President and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. "We are grateful to the Boston Public Health Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their support in tackling food insecurity, an issue that continues to impact many of Boston's diverse communities."    

"There are many non-medical conditions that impact our patients' ability to lead healthy lives, including a lack of affordable, nutritious food," said Karen Van Unen, COO of South End Community Health Center. "The Fresh Truck initiative provides our patients and their families  with critical access to healthy food choices right in their neighborhood." 

In January 2017, BPHC awarded $120,000 in grant funding to the four community health centers that have worked directly with nonprofits to increase food access by scaling up programs near public housing developments, reaching approximately 27,000 public housing residents​.

Aug 14
National Immunization Month: Vaccines for Adults

August is National Immunization Awareness Month.  Throughout the month, we will highlight the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages.  This week's blog focuses on the importance of vaccines for adults.

Children are not the only ones who need vaccines, adults need them too! Healthy adults can get very sick if they are not fully vaccinated! Making sure you are up to date with your vaccines will not only protect you from disease but will also help protect your friends and family. 

One vaccine that is important for adults to get every year is the flu vaccine. Everyone, including adults, should get the flu vaccine every year to protect themselves from influenza (flu). The flu is a contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu can be dangerous, especially for the very young, the very old and for those with other medical problems. Most people have illness lasting a few days; however, some may develop pneumonia or other serious complications. Every year, flu causes tens of thousands of hospital admissions in the United States. Sometimes it even leads to deaths. Make sure to get the flu vaccine this year, and keep yourself and those around you healthy.


Vaccines are important throughout life to stay healthy. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

To learn more about vaccines, visit http://www.bphc.org/idb


Aug 14
Mes Nacional de Concientización Sobre la Inmunización: Las Vacunas para Adultos

​Agosto es el mes nacional de concientización sobre la inmunización. Durante el mes, destacaremos la importancia de la vacunación en personas de todas las edades. El blog de esta semana se centra en la importancia de las vacunas para adultos.


¡Los niños no son los únicos que necesitan vacunas, los adultos también las necesitan! ¡Los adultos sanos pueden enfermarse si no están completamente vacunados! Asegurarse de estar al día con sus vacunas no sólo le protegerá de enfermedades pero también ayudará a proteger a sus amigos y familiares.

Una vacuna que es importante que adultos obtengan cada año es la vacuna contra la gripe. Todos, incluyendo adultos, deben recibir la vacuna contra la gripe anualmente para protegerse de la influenza (gripe). La gripe es una enfermedad contagiosa causada por el virus de la influenza. La gripe puede ser peligrosa, especialmente para los niños pequeños, las personas de mayor edad y para aquellos con otros problemas médicos. La mayoría de las personas infectadas con la gripe llegan estar enfermas por unos días. Sin embargo, algunos pueden desarrollar neumonía u otras complicaciones graves. Cada año, la gripe causa miles de hospitalizaciones en los Estados Unidos. A veces incluso conduce a muertes. Asegúrese de obtener la vacuna contra la gripe este año, y manténgase y a los que le rodean saludable.

Las vacunas son importantes durante toda la vida para mantenerse sano. Hable con su proveedor de salud para asegurarse de que sus vacunas estén actualizadas.

Para más información sobre las vacunas, visite http://www.bphc.org/idb. #NIAM17


Aug 08
Mes Nacional de Concientización Sobre la Inmunización: Las Vacunas para las Mujeres Embarazadas

​Agosto es el mes nacional de concientización sobre la inmunización. Durante el mes, destacaremos la importancia de la vacunación en personas de todas las edades. El blog de esta semana se centra en la importancia de las vacunas para las mujeres embarazadas.

¿Sabía usted que las mujeres embarazadas que son vacunadas pueden proteger a sus bebés? La vacunación mantiene a las madres y a sus hijos protegidos contra enfermedades peligrosas. El CDC recomienda tres vacunas principales para las mujeres embarazadas: las vacunas contra la gripe, contra la tos ferina y contra el sarampión-paperas-rubéola (MMR).

Si usted está planeando quedar embarazada:

Es importante obtener todas las vacunas para adultos antes de intentar quedar embarazada. Esto le ayudará a estar saludable y le dará inmunidad a su bebé. Sin embargo, si ya está embarazada, no es demasiado tarde para obtener sus vacunas. Continúe leyendo para aprender más sobre las enfermedades que son particularmente peligrosas para las mujeres embarazadas y sus bebés.

Influenza (La gripe)

  • Las mujeres embarazadas tienen un mayor riesgo de desarrollar complicaciones por la gripe.
  • Tener gripe durante el embarazo puede causar un parto prematuro.
  • Obtener la vacuna contra la gripe cada año es la mejor manera de prevenir la gripe.

La Tos Ferina

  • Alrededor 20 niños mueren en Estados Unidos por tos ferina cada año.
  • Los bebés con tos ferina a menudo necesitan ir al hospital.
  • La vacunación durante el embarazo contra la tos ferina (vacuna Tdap) puede ayudar a proteger al bebé.

Sarampión, Paperas, Rubeola   

  • La rubéola puede provocar un aborto espontáneo o defectos de nacimiento.
  • Se sugiere que las mujeres reciban esta vacuna antes de quedar embarazada.
  • Después de recibir la vacuna, una mujer debe esperar al menos un mes antes de intentar quedar embarazada.
  • Los casos de sarampión, paperas y rubéola son menos comunes en los Estados Unidos hoy en día, pero todavía ocurren casos y las enfermedades son peligrosas para las madres y los bebés. Si planea viajar a un área donde estas enfermedades son más comunes, recibir la vacuna antes de ir ayudará a protegerlo a usted y a su bebé.
  • La vacuna MMR protege contra estas tres enfermedades. 
  • Puede ser que necesite otras vacunas. Hable con su proveedor de salud sobre cuales vacunas debe tener.​



Aug 07
National Immunization Month: Vaccines for Pregnant Women

August is National Immunization Awareness Month.  Throughout the month, we will highlight the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages.  This week's blog focuses on the importance of vaccines for pregnant women.


Did you know that pregnant women who are vaccinated can give immunity to their babies? Getting vaccinated keeps mothers and their children stay safe from dangerous diseases. The CDC recommends three main vaccines for pregnant women: flu, whooping cough, and MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines. 

It is important to get all of your adult vaccinations before trying to get pregnant. This will help you to be healthy, and give immunity to your baby. If you are already pregnant, it is not too late to get your vaccinations!  Below is a list of diseases that are particularly harmful to pregnant women and their babies. 


  • Influenza (The flu)
    • Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing complications from the flu.
    • Having the flu while pregnant can cause premature labor and birth.
    • Getting the seasonal flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent flu.
  • Whooping Cough
    • As many as 20 infants die in the United States from whooping cough every year.
    • Babies with whooping cough often need to go to the hospital.
    • Getting vaccinated during pregnancy against pertussis (Tdap vaccine) can help protect the baby.
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella 
    • Rubella can lead to a miscarriage or birth defects.
      • The CDC suggests women get this vaccine before getting pregnant.
      • After getting the vaccine a woman should wait at least one month before trying to get pregnant.
    • Cases of measles, mumps, and rubella are less common in the United States today, but cases do still occur and the diseases are dangerous to mothers and babies. If you plan to travel to an area where these diseases are more common, getting vaccinated before you go will help protect you and your baby.
    • The MMR vaccine provides protection against all three diseases.

 Other vaccines may also be needed. Talk to your healthcare provider about what vaccines make sense for you.


Aug 02
City Officials Launch "Farm Fresh Boston" Campaign


On Wednesday, August 2, 2017, city officials kicked off "Farm Fresh Boston," an annual campaign by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and the Mayor's Office of Food Access aimed at raising awareness that affordable, locally-grown produce is available at 24 farmers markets around the City.

Now in its second year, the "Farm Fresh Boston" campaign highlights the Commonwealth's Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) which helps SNAP participants buy more locally-grown produce. HIP allows participants to spend their SNAP dollars on fruits and vegetables at participating farmers market retailers, and helps people earn extra funds on their SNAP/EBT card, which can then be used toward any future SNAP-eligible purchases.

"Improving access to healthy and affordable food is part of our efforts to make neighborhoods healthier places to live," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Boston is fortunate to have an abundance of farmers markets and with HIP, residents are now able to get more value out of their SNAP dollars."

Along with raising awareness, the "Farm Fresh Boston" campaign will provide tools and resources in English and Spanish to help residents locate their local farmers markets and select food once they arrive at the markets. A map tool created for the campaign helps residents locate the farmers markets in their neighborhoods. The campaign also provides resources, like a seasonal produce guide to help Bostonians learn about and choose farm fresh options.

"Making it easier for people to make healthy choices is crucial to achieving health equity in Boston," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "With 'Farm Fresh Boston,' we hope to make people aware that there is a wide network of healthy and affordable food resources that can protect us from poor health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and hypertension."

"We are overwhelmed with the success that HIP is having in the City of Boston. Since April when the Health Incentive Program rolled out in the city, we have been seeing more SNAP recipients shopping at the farmers markets, and I have also heard from many farmers that their sales have been increasing significantly," said Catalina Lopez-Ospina, director of the Mayor's Office of Food Access. "We want to guarantee that all Bostonians have access to fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables and HIP is helping us to move the needle in that direction."

Boston residents will see the campaign highlighted throughout the summer months in billboards, subway cars, and bus interiors and exteriors. Wayfinding signs will also direct pedestrians to nearby markets, helping to emphasize the campaign's message that farm-fresh fruits and vegetables are available right around the corner from wherever you are in Boston.

"The Health Incentive Program brings healthier options at an affordable price to residents of the city of Boston, said State Representative Kevin G. Honan. "Mayor Walsh and his Office of Food Access have done an extraordinary job in tandem with the Boston Public Health Commission by providing our community with nutritious alternatives."

"Farm Fresh Boston not only brings local farmers and their products to our neighborhoods, but also provides fresh, healthy options for some of our most vulnerable citizens," said Councilor Mark Ciommo. "I want to thank the Boston Public Health Commission, the Mayor's Office of Food Access, and everyone involved in the Oak Square Farmers Market for this amazing event."

"HIP allows me to stretch my budget by saving my SNAP benefits and using them later," said Maren Tober of South Boston. "With HIP I can get healthy food for free, and the cool thing is that it supports local farmers, myself, and the city. It is a win-win for everyone."

Farmers market shoppers are encouraged to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #farmfreshBOS. BPHC will collect social media photo submissions and host a weekly sweepstakes drawing for farmers market-related prizes.​

Aug 01
National Immunization Month: Vaccines for Babies and Young Children

August is National Immunization Awareness Month.  Throughout the month, we will highlight the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages.  This week's blog focuses on the importance of vaccines for babies and young children.

Vaccines can help keep babies and young children safe from many diseases. Before the age of 2, children are vaccinated against 14 very serious diseases. Some might think that diseases such as measles and chickenpox are problems from the past, but they are still around today. Vaccines can help protect your children from these diseases whether they are exposed at home or at school. Keep your child healthy and safe by making sure they are up-to-date with their vaccinations.

In Massachusetts, children need to be vaccinated to go to daycare, school, camps, and college. It is important for children to be vaccinated on time. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure your child is up to date on his/her vaccines. 

Learn more!​




Aug 01
Mes Nacional de Concientización Sobre la Inmunización: Las Vacunas para Bebés y Niños Pequeños

​Agosto es el mes nacional de concientización sobre la inmunización. Durante el mes, destacaremos la importancia de la vacunación en personas de todas las edades. El blog de esta semana se centra en la importancia de las vacunas para bebés y niños pequeños.

Las vacunas pueden ayudar a mantener a los bebés y niños pequeños protegidos de muchas enfermedades. Antes de los 2 años de edad, los niños son vacunados contra 14 enfermedades muy graves. Algunos podrían pensar que las enfermedades como el sarampión y la varicela son problemas del pasado, pero estas enfermedades todavía existen hoy. Las vacunas pueden ayudar a proteger a sus hijos de estas enfermedades si se ecuentran expuestos en la casa o en la escuela. Mantenga a su hijo sano y seguro, asegure de que esté al día con sus vacunas.

En Massachusetts, los niños necesitan ser vacunados para ir a la guardería, la escuela, los campamentos y la universidad. Es importante que los niños sean vacunados a tiempo. Hable con su proveedor de salud para asegurarse de que su hijo esté al día con sus vacunas.

Para más información sobre las vacunas, visite http://www.bphc.org/IDB.  #NIAM17 


Aug 01
City Officials to Launch "Farm Fresh Boston" Campaign

​On Wednesday, August 2, 2017, city officials will kick off "Farm Fresh Boston," an annual campaign by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and the Mayor's Office of Food Access aimed at raising awareness that affordable, locally-grown produce is available at 24 farmers markets located all around the City. 

"Farm Fresh Boston" campaign ads will be featured on billboards, subway cars, and bus interiors and exteriors. Wayfinding signs will also direct pedestrians to nearby markets, helping to emphasize the campaign's message that farm-fresh fruits and vegetables are available right around the corner from wherever you are in Boston.   

Now in its second year, the "Farm Fresh Boston" campaign highlights the Commonwealth's Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), which helps SNAP participants buy more locally-grown produce. HIP allows participants to spend their SNAP dollars on fruits and vegetables at participating farmers market retailers, and helps people earn extra funds on their SNAP/EBT card, which can then be used toward any future SNAP-eligible purchases.   

WHEN: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 

TIME: 5 - 6 p.m. 

WHERE: Oak Square Farmers Market, 640 Washington St, Brighton Presentation School Foundation Parking Lot 

WHO: Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH, Executive Director, BPHC 
Catalina Lopez-Ospina, Director, Mayor's Office of Food Access              


The launch coincides with the Oak Square Farmers Market, which will remain open through the event and until 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Jul 28
World Hepatitis Day (July 28th)

Millions of people are living with hepatitis worldwide but many may not know that they are infected! The most common types of hepatitis include hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis causes the liver to swell, scarring of the liver, and even liver cancer or liver failure. Vaccines are available to protect against HAV and HBV but not HCV. Treatment is available for HBV and HCV.

How is hepatitis spread?

The HBV and HCV virus is spread when blood or other body fluids containing blood from an infected person enter the body of a person who is not infected.  This can happen through sharing needles or items like toothbrushes and razors, or when infected blood enters through a cut in the skin.  HBV can also spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth. HBV can also be spread through semen and vaginal fluids during sexual contact. Mother to child transmission and sexual transmission are possible but less common for HCV. HAV spreads primarily by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact or eating contaminated food or water.  

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is the most commonly reported viral hepatitis in Boston. In 2015, there were 803 cases of HCV reported to the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). Some people will not experience any symptoms, but when symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Whites of the eye and skin turn yellow
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Tiredness
  • Dark brown urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Grey-colored stools (feces)

Who is at risk?

Most cases of HCV had a history of injection drug use but there are other groups with an increased risk of getting HCV. These include:

  • people who have had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
  • people receiving long-term hemodialysis (kidney dialysis) treatment
  • people who shared tattooing or body piercing needles or ink
  • people living with HIV
  • healthcare workers who may have been exposed to infected blood
  • children born to mothers with HCV
  • people born between 1945 and 1965

There is no vaccine available for HCV, but there are effective treatment options.

Talk to a healthcare provider to find out if you need to be tested for hepatitis or if you need to be vaccinated against HAV or HBV. If you don't have a healthcare provider, call the Mayor's Health Line at (617) 534-5050 to help you find a healthcare provider near you. For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/RiskAssessment/

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