Local News

Widower pleads for COVID vaccinations among assisted facility workers after wife's death

Posted October 7, 2021 6:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2021 7:34 p.m. EDT

— A man is pleading with assisted living facility workers to get vaccinated after his spouse died from COVID-19 complications.

For those hesitant to get the shot, William Hughes has a heartfelt message.

Hughes is calling on those workers to get vaccinated after his wife died. The employees at assisted care facilities generally work with one of the most at risk populations yet only 58 percent of workers at senior care facilities are vaccinated.

"She was the light of my life," Hughes said.

In late August, Hughes had to say goodbye to the woman he loved for more than five decades - his wife, Anne Hughes.

The two were married in 1970 and together until her death six weeks ago.

He says some of the workers she interacted with at the facility were not vaccinated.

Forty percent of the deaths that happened last year from COVID occurred at senior living facilities. The vaccine was seen as a major way to protect that population. Yet, while most residents are vaccinated many workers are not. That’s a problem Hughes learned in the most personal of ways.

"She was a wonderful lady," Hughes said of his wife. "We were married for 51 years, married in 1970."

Anne was living at an assisted care facility in Pinehurst. William was fully vaccinated and so was Anne, but he said some of the workers she interacted with were not vaccinated.

"There were a fair amount of fliers at the facility, where I would visit her twice a day, talking about vaccine fairs, encouraging employees who were not fully vaccinated," William said.

William and senior advocates believe her life could’ve been spared.

"These our are most medically fragile people," said Lauren Zingraff, the executive director for Friends of Residents in Long-Term Care.

Fewer than 60 percent of senior care and long term care workers are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data. Zingraff attributes that rate to misinformation.

"All the misinformation that’s out there," Zingraff said. "All the same things we hear from the general public when we ask why aren’t you getting the vaccine."

"None of us know how long we're going to have," Hughes said. "But I am extremely convinced that if Anne had not gotten COVID in the nursing facility, the odds are extremely high that she would still be alive."

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