Published: January 14, 2021 by Thomas J. MacKinnon
Funeral Directors and Covid-19 Vaccine
The vaccine priority for funeral directors in Gov. Baker’s and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts plan has funeral directors and staff as listed in phase 3, which is with the general population. This conflicts with the March 23rd list of essential workers and critical infrastructure workers which had funeral directors and staff in the same category with healthcare workers and first responders, who are listed in Phase 1 for the vaccines. This presents conflicting message about the importance of enforcing standards to protect public health while ignoring that of a workforce that has many risks for exposure and infection. Funeral directors and their staff are a unique and specialized workforce, which are not easily replaced.
Funeral directors many times throughout our day enter hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities and private residences to transfer the deceased into the care of the funeral home. Once at the funeral homes we prepare the deceased for final arrangements, which exposure during unique situations and responsibilities that the public is unfamiliar with such as embalming, soiled lines, biological products, and medical waste. We also meet with families who may or may not be present at time of death and may be unaware of their positive Covid-19 status. If it is the Commonwealth’s position that funeral directors have no more risk than the general public, then that is profoundly disturbing to us who have worked to care for so many of the families in our communities during these challenging times. The Massachusetts Funeral Directors Assoc. is working to appeal and change the phase for funeral directors to phase 1 which we were previously listed with other healthcare and first responders category.