The union representing the majority of employees at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home is acknowledging many workers are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The facility for veterans, run by the state of Massachusetts, was the site of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, where nearly 80 residents died while testing positive for COVID-19.
Cory Bombredi is with SEIU Local 888, which represents — among others — some nurses and nursing assistants at the soldiers' home, as well as kitchen staff. He said union leaders are encouraging workers to take the vaccine, but they've also been hearing from some who are concerned about it.
"We had a few people who were worried that it was an unknown — is it safe? The general concerns that you hear the public talking about," Bombredi said. "Surprisingly enough, we had a few that were afraid of needles."
A calculation by The Boston Globe shows only 39% of employees were inoculated the first day the vaccine was available at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. Bombredi said it's "discouraging to hear the number was that low."
The Globe reported the vaccination rate among staff at the the Chelsea Soldiers' Home in eastern Massachusetts was considerably lower, at 19%.
A press release from the state touting the start of vaccinations at the soldiers' homes said vaccination was voluntary for both residents and staff, "however all people are encouraged to get vaccinated."