Concerns expressed over COVID-19 booster shot distribution at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

Concerns expressed over COVID-19 booster shot distribution at Holyoke Soldiers' Home
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 8:15 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -New concerns have risen for the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, following how long it took Veterans to receive the second round of COVID-19 booster shots at the facility.

Western Mass News spoke with one woman whose father was a resident who passed away at this home during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she is worried about how long it took for booster shots to be given to those who currently live at the Soldiers’ Home.

Two years ago, COVID-19 swept through the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, claiming the lives of 76 Veterans, and now Laurie Mandevile-Beaudette, who lost her father during the deadly outbreak, is raising concerns over how the state run facility is handling COVID-19 booster shot distribution.

“They should be the first to get the vaccine after everything that’s happened...We don’t want to go back to that point where people have to die alone, people like my dad you know it’s just not fair, it’s not right it’s not ethical and for them to make these kinds of errors it’s insane,” said Mandeville-Beaudette.

Western Mass News reached out to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home for answers. Here’s a breakdown of their COVID-19 booster shot distribution process.

Following FDA approval in late March, Western Mass news was told the clinical staff at the Soldiers’ Home began to obtain consent from Veteran residents and their healthcare proxies. Once consent was received, the second booster vaccines were given out.

According to the Director of Communications, Deb Foley at the Soldiers’ Home, 100% of the Veterans have received the first booster shot and 95% of eligible Veterans have received their second booster shot.

Meanwhile , 100% of staff has received the first booster which is mandated by the Soldiers’ Home. The second booster is not mandated. Neither booster shot is mandated for Veterans. The home is still offering both doses of the COVID-19 booster shot to eligible staff and Veterans.

Mandeville-Beaudette said she believes that the Soldiers’ Home waited too long to give out the second round of booster shots in both Holyoke and at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea.

“I think it’s appalling because it’s another mistake that the state continues to make in this whole COVID crisis. I mean it’s like haven’t they learned anything?,” said Mandeville-Beaudette.

We also took a closer look at the State’s COVID-19 case reports at the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes. As of April 19, the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home reported a bump in cases nine among staff and 13 among patients. As for the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, fewer than five positive cases reported among staff, but they had no cases among patients.

“I just hope that the State starts to the right thing by the Veterans up at the Soldiers’, not only for the ones that passed at the beginning of the pandemic, but just follow CDC guidelines and do the right thing,” said Mandeville-Beaudette.

A judge dismissed the criminal charges against the former Superintendent and Medical Director at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in November and now families of those who lost loved ones are pursing a Civil Lawsuit.