HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The city of Holyoke is launching a new initiative to promote the COVID-19 vaccine to its residents. This initiative is different than others because it’s aimed specifically at Holyoke businesses. But the purpose is the same: educate more people about the COVID-19 vaccine and get shots into more arms.

“Educate to Vaccinate”: It’s a new vaccine outreach initiative in the works in Holyoke, and it’s targeting the city’s businesses. Right now, Holyoke is 65% fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Local officials want that number to increase.

Sean Gonsalves, director of the Holyoke board of health, told 22News, “There was a bit of an outreach gap when it comes to businesses. This program was put together by my department in order to give that same level of outreach and attention to businesses.

“Educate to Vaccinate” is a multilingual education and outreach program, and the plan is: to provide services for businesses to learn more about vaccines, including the benefits of increasing vaccination rates in the workplace.

When asked what businesses can get out of this initiative, Gonsalves told 22News, “We’re collecting information on what they are seeing, what are they struggling with, and what solutions can we come up with. And another part of this is providing reliable information.”

Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia adding that the initiative will support Holyoke businesses who are dealing with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“This approach is one here is just one creative way for us to make those connections so that folks can do the right thing,” Mayor Garcia said.

Both officials told 22News the city has already started to connect with several businesses in the area and services are at no cost to businesses and their employees. Businesses interested in taking part in this initiative can contact the Holyoke health board.