The first veteran residents at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea received the COVID-19 vaccination today (Tuesday). Vaccination was done onsite at each Home, through a federal Long Term Care pharmacy partnership program with CVS and Walgreens. The onsite vaccinations also began for staff at both Soldiers’ Homes today.

According to a press release from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in Boston, 78-year-old Robert Aucoin was the first resident vaccinated at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. Aucoin, Airman 2nd Class, U.S. Air Force, served from 1961 to 1965 during the Vietnam era. While stationed at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, he served as the control tower operator. Aucoin has resided at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke since April of 2018.

Robert Aucoin, 78, a U.S. Air Force veteran and resident at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, receiving the first COVID-19 vaccine at the Home. Photo credit: Leon Nguyen/The Springfield Republican

 

Upon receiving the vaccine, Aucoin said:

I am very happy about getting the vaccine. My wish is that everyone in the world can get the vaccine.

 

94-year-old Dominic Pitella was the first resident vaccinated at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea today. Pitella has been a resident of the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea since April 2018. Pitella, a U.S. Army Air Corps Corporal, was a cook with the 559th Air Service Group and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II 1945-1946. His awards include the Army of Occupation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.

(Header Image at top of story - Dominic Pitella, 94, a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran and resident at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, receiving the first COVID-19 vaccine at the Home. Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe)

Pitella also has well wishes for the world:

I’m hopeful this will help everybody.

 

Governor Charlie Baker marked the event today with these words:

Administering vaccines to our frontline health care workers and now some of our most vulnerable residents in the Soldiers’ Home provides relief and hope that there are brighter days ahead for all… We are pleased to start providing the first dose to the incredible men and women living in both the Holyoke and Chelsea facilities to offer more protection from COVID-19 and remain grateful to the dedicated staff who are working tirelessly to keep our veterans safe and healthy during the pandemic.

 

In the coming weeks, there will be additional onsite vaccination clinics at each Home to vaccinate veteran residents and staff. The Homes are encouraging the vaccine for all Veteran residents and staff and are working to obtain consent for those interested. COVID vaccination is voluntary for everyone – however all people are encouraged to get vaccinated.

In addition to the COVID-19 vaccination at both Soldiers’ Homes, the facilities will continue weekly testing and daily symptom checking of all residents and staff. Both Soldiers’ Homes has been intently focused on following infection control procedures and maintaining best practices for the safety of veteran residents and staff.

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