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Funeral Industry Awaits Response On Request To Be Prioritized In Vaccine Rollout

Apprentice funeral director Catie Ruggiero sprays each chair down with lysol following a wake Ruggiero Family Memorial Home in East Boston on April 29, 2020. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Apprentice funeral director Catie Ruggiero sprays each chair down with lysol following a wake Ruggiero Family Memorial Home in East Boston on April 29, 2020. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

A group of more than 100 lawmakers who asked Gov. Charlie Baker two weeks ago to prioritize funeral home workers for COVID-19 vaccines say they are frustrated that they have yet to hear back from the administration.

“I’m very stunned there has been no reply,” state Rep. Sally Kerans, D-Danvers, told The Telegram & Gazette for a story Thursday.

Funeral workers, she said, are the only “COVID-facing” professionals left off the state’s phase one vaccination list.

“I can’t help, but think there’s a bias toward end-of-life care somewhere in the administration,” said C.R. Lyons, president of the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association.

Funeral workers often have to travel to high-risk areas of nursing homes and hospitals to collect virus victims. There have been a number of situations where smaller funeral homes have had to “essentially shut down,” following outbreaks among staff, Lyons said.

A spokesperson for the state COVID-19 Command Center in a statement last week said the current vaccine distribution plan is based on the recommendations of an advisory group made up of health professionals, community leaders and local officials.

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