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Death care workers in need of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 9:18 PM EST
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SOUTH POINT, Ohio (WSAZ) - Funeral directors and death care workers have been hands-on throughout the pandemic, since their duties involve being in close contact with some people who die from COVID-19.

“You stand a pretty good possibility of contracting this from the people that pass away, and the bodies that you handle, and have to move and that sort of thing,” said Richard Slack, funeral director of Slack and Wallace Funeral Home in Ohio.

However, even with this risk of exposure, Ohio death care workers are currently not included in the first range of vaccine phases.

Melissa Sullivan with the Ohio Funeral Directors Association says federal framework initially pushed for death care workers to get the vaccine early on.

“Two different national agencies NASEM and ACIP. Both recommending that death care workers be placed in Phase 1A,” Sullivan said.

However, when Phase 1A was released by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health, Sullivan says their association reached out to DeWine’s administration to be included in Phase 1B.

“They are at their breaking point. They need this vaccine in order to continue serving families and their communities,” Sullivan said.

Hoping for change, so death care workers like Richard Slack don’t have to wonder if they’re spreading the virus to loved ones.

“We’ve been hit so hard in this area, and have had so much exposure to it already, that that’s the first thought that comes to mind,” Slack said.

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