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City of Holyoke Tackles COVID-19 with Business-Focused Vaccine Awareness Initiative

Posted on January 27, 2022

Innovative “Educate to Vaccinate” campaign teams up with local businesses to ensure that vaccination rates stay on the rise.

HOLYOKE, Mass. – January 25, 2022 – The coronavirus pandemic has affected communities in the Greater Springfield area in an intense and sudden way, especially those with large percentages of daily commuters – the city of Holyoke is no exception. The city faces a unique challenge to mitigating the spread of the coronavirus and increasing vaccination. Holyoke has a vibrant community made up of a variety of racial and ethnic groups that have, historically, higher rates of poor social determinants of health. The pandemic has only exacerbated these disparities, as evidenced by the lower rates of vaccination among these groups. This is only further complicated by Holyoke’s strong manufacturing, technology and retail industries that draw workers from the surrounding areas.

To tackle this unique challenge, the City of Holyoke has launched the “Educate to Vaccinate” initiative, an integrated campaign that aims to educate, encourage, and empower Holyoke businesses to work with their employees to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates.   The campaign was made possible through COVID-19 relief funds, including CARES, ARPA and the Vaccine Equity Best Value Grant and will last until March 10, 2022.

This targeted, multilingual education and outreach program will provide opportunities for businesses to learn more about vaccines and the benefits of increasing vaccination in the workplace. The campaign will also raise awareness of incentives and programs that help mitigate productivity loss due to time off needed for vaccinations or possible vaccine-related side effects. The initiative’s services are offered at no cost to businesses and their employees.

“Addressing the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 requires an equally unprecedented effort at the local level,” said Mayor of Holyoke Joshua Garcia. “That is the idea behind Educate to Vaccinate: to implement a bold public education program so the entire community understands that getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones. My hope for the program is to bridge the institutional barriers that have discouraged some Holyokers from getting vaccinated, while also supporting businesses when they are most vulnerable.”

The Educate to Vaccinate initiative is a collaborative effort that involves local institutions, organizations, and elected officials, including:

  • Joshua Garcia, Mayor of the City of Holyoke
  • Patricia Duffy, State Representative of the Fifth Hampden District
  • Juan Anderson-Burgos, City of Holyoke Ward 6 City Councilor and legislative aide to State Rep. Patricia Duffy
  • Rory Casey, Director of Operations and Logistics for the Holyoke Emergency Operations Center
  • Sean Gonsalves, Director of Health for the Holyoke Board of Health
  • Jordan Hart, Executive Director of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce
  • Kate Preissler, Special Programs Manager for Holyoke Community Development
  • Aaron Vega, Director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Holyoke

“Our goal is to help build safter workspaces, combat misinformation, and support our local businesses through this difficult time,” said Sean Gonsalves, director of the Holyoke Board of Health.







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