SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In an effort to get as many people in Syracuse vaccinated, Mayor Ben Walsh acknowledges there are some zip codes that have lower vaccination rates.

“They have been consistently aligned where we’ve seen infection rates up,” Walsh said, “So, 13204 over on the Westside has been a constant challenge for us; 13207 on the Southside, up on the Northside – typically areas where we have higher concentrations of poverty as well as higher concentrations of communities of color.”

The hesitancy is not just about COVID-19, for African Americans it’s rooted in history.

“When we think about the Tuskegee Experiment, Henrietta Lacks, there’s a number of things that black folks can refer to in recent history, that gives pause to this,” said Mark Hall, Syracuse Community Health Center President and CEO.

During the height of the pandemic, the Syracuse Community Health Center was where many people got tested. It was the first place to offer testing in Onondaga County. It’s partnering now with 100 Black Men of Syracuse and the Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation to bring mobile vaccinations, jazz and other entertainment to the community.

The Family Health Picnic series will take place on Sundays at different city parks.

“The whole point of this is to give them an opportunity to get vaccinated,” said George Kilpatrick, Family Health Picnics spokesperson.

This is personal for Kilpatrick.

“I lost my mom to COVID-19 last year,” Kilpatrick said, “Certainly I along with many families were devastated by that and so I wanted to do my part in her memory.”

Kilpatrick hopes this effort reaches as many people as it can this summer so they can avoid that same heartache he endured.

The Picnics will take place every other Sunday from 2-5 p.m. Here is the list of places:

  • Skiddy Park, June 13
  • Schiller Park, June 27
  • Jubilee Park, July 11
  • Sankofa Park, August 1
  • Leavenworth Park, August 15
  • Thornden Park, August 22