By Bill Shields

BOSTON (CBS) – Despite the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses, COVID-19 sometimes overcomes their patient. Funeral home employees are usually the next people to come in contact with a patient who dies from COVID.

“We have to go to the place that the person passed away and that often is a hospital of course, a medical facility or a nursing facility,” says Jonathan Raymond of JS Waterman Langone Chapel in Boston.

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The problem is that funeral home employees are at the bottom of the state’s Phase 2 vaccine list.

“Like ambulance drivers, we are in direct contact with those people for short periods of time,” says Barbara Kazmierczak of the Mass. Funeral Directors Association. “And then you have the prolonged period of time with the treatment and the family.”

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She wants the state to move them up, to get vaccinated, so they can safely deal with the deceased. “You can try and limit the numbers, which many of us do, but again you’re exposing yourself to people that are outside of your bubble,” Kazmierczak said.

Some funeral directors WBZ spoke with were frustrated that members of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner have received the COVID vaccine.

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Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you’re eligible and to book an appointment.

Bill Shields