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Mass. To Vaccinate Residents Of Holyoke, Chelsea Soldiers' Homes

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home. (Miriam Wasser/WBUR)
The Holyoke Soldiers' Home. (Miriam Wasser/WBUR)

Residents of two Massachusetts veterans care centers that were hit hard by the pandemic are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus starting Tuesday, state officials say.

Air Force veteran Robert Aucoin, 78, is scheduled to be the first resident of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home vaccinated, according to the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Aucoin, who has lived at the state-run home since 2018, served from 1961 to 1965 and during his service worked as the control tower operator at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

World War II veteran Dominic Pitella is scheduled to be the first resident of the Chelsea Soldiers' Home to be vaccinated, state officials said.

Pitella, a former cook with the 559th Air Service Group, served in the Pacific Theater during World War II in 1945. He has lived at the home since 2018.

The Holyoke home had one of the country's deadliest outbreaks at a long-term care facility, with nearly 80 residents dying after contracting the virus and dozens of other residents and staffers sickened.

An investigation into the outbreak by a formal federal prosecutor hired by Gov. Charlie Baker found that management at the home made several “utterly baffling” decisions that helped the disease run rampant.

Two former top administrators have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence charges connected to the deaths.

More than 30 residents of the Chelsea home died of the disease.

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