CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – With the start of the holiday season comes an increase in larger gatherings and therefore an increase in possible COVID-19 spread.

Experts are urging people to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19 and potentially disrupting the holiday festivities.

“I think it’s important that we all take the advice of our doctors or our practitioners and get vaccines, flu shots, whatever it is that we need to keep ourselves healthy and our families,” said Donna Marratta, President, Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen Board

Marratta is a part of Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry in Chicopee where a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic was held Saturday. Those who stopped by to get a booster shot were able to snag $75 gift cards to places like Walmart, Stop & Shop or Cumberland Farms.

This comes as part of a larger state-wide effort to get more people vaccinated. The Commonwealth has reached out to communities that have been hit-hard by the pandemic to coordinate free clinics like these all the way through the month of December. Although much of Western Massachusetts remains at low-risk for COVID-19 spread, experts say that it’s important to stay up-to-date on vaccination, especially during the holiday season.

“Because you want to make sure that whoever you’re going to visit, you’re keeping them safe along with yourself, said Marratta.

Harry Mills from Ludlow echoed that sentiment.

“You have to keep updated. You have to get the booster shot to be fully protected, and the people who have not gotten the booster shots should really consider getting it because it’s safe for everybody that way, said Mills.

The CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health offer resources for how to find and get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.