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Press Release First Soldiers’ Home Veteran Residents Receive COVID-19 Vaccination in Holyoke, Chelsea

Residents and staff will be vaccinated onsite in coming weeks
For immediate release:
12/29/2020
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Soldiers' Home in Holyoke
  • Soldiers' Home in Chelsea

Media Contact for First Soldiers’ Home Veteran Residents Receive COVID-19 Vaccination in Holyoke, Chelsea

Brooke Karanovich, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

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

HOLYOKE & CHELSEA — Today, the first veteran residents at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea received the COVID-19 vaccination. 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.

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
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
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
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

Robert Aucoin, 78, 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. “I am very happy about getting the vaccine. My wish is that everyone in the world can get the vaccine,” said Aucoin.

Dominic Pitella, 94, was the first resident vaccinated at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea. 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. “I’m hopeful this will help everybody,” said Pitella.

“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,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “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.”

“As the Commonwealth prioritizes long-term care residents in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, we are glad to see the veterans who live at the Soldiers Homes receive their vaccinations today,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We look forward to working with all of our partners on the continued rollout of the vaccine in a safe, fair and equitable way.”

“The first wave of vaccinations of residents and staff at long term care facilities in the Commonwealth gives us hope for the beginning of the end of this devastating pandemic, one that we know has disproportionately impacted residents of long term care facilities,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “While there is hope, we must continue to be vigilant in the face of COVID-19, and I deeply appreciate the ongoing efforts of frontline health care workers like the team at the Soldiers’ Homes during this unprecedented time.”

“The Department of Veterans’ Services and the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and Chelsea move forward with hope and perseverance to a bright future for our veteran residents and staff,” said Veterans’ Services Secretary Cheryl Lussier Poppe. “We look forward to continuing our work to ensure our veterans are cared for, and today’s vaccination is another vital step in our mission as we continue this commitment. The ongoing support of the surrounding community is impactful, and deeply appreciated, as we navigate this public health emergency together.”

As Long Term Care facilities, the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke are prioritized in Phase One of the COVID vaccine distribution plan. The Soldiers’ Homes are enrolled in the CDC’s Long-Term Care Pharmacy Partnership program for the COVID-19 vaccination administration.

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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Media Contact for First Soldiers’ Home Veteran Residents Receive COVID-19 Vaccination in Holyoke, Chelsea

Soldiers' Home in Holyoke 

Established in 1952, the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke is a multifaceted health care facility available to eligible veterans of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Our mission is to provide ‘Care with Honor and Dignity’ in the best possible health care environment for eligible veterans who reside in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Soldiers' Home in Chelsea 

Established in 1882, the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea offers Residential and Long Term Care programs to eligible Massachusetts Veterans. Our mission is to provide, with Dignity, Honor, and Respect, the highest quality of personal health care services to Massachusetts Veterans.
Image credits:  Leon Nguyen/The Springfield Republican;  Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe
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