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New Jersey has opened its first mega-COVID vaccination site at its shopping center

The former Sears opened in Rockaway shopping mall Friday morning as the first of six planned ‘Mega sites’ New Jersey is preparing to conduct mass vaccinations for Coronavirus, Although vaccine rollout is still slower than officials would like.

governor. Phil Murphy It was close at hand Police officers and firefighters became the first people For their shots at the Rockaway Townsquare site.

The Morris County site is one of two mega sites that the state opens Friday. The other is at Rowan College, South Jersey in Sewell, Gloucester County. The final four centers – in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington and Middlesex – are expected to open in the coming days.

State Health Commissioner Judith Percicelli said the sites will eventually serve as vaccination “hubs” in New Jersey, as well as a network of more than 200 smaller vaccination sites across the state.

Officials said the 30,000-square-foot Rockaway site will eventually be able to give 2,400 vaccines a day, 7 days a week.

Currently, despite the shortage of supplies, vaccinations are limited to healthcare workers, police and firefighters. About 100 people are due to be vaccinated Friday in Rockaway. Percicelli said the site will be fully operational for the general public by May.

Officials blamed the federal government for the slow supply of the vaccine.

“I hope the Fed gives us adequate supplies sooner rather than later so that we can do 2,400 a day,” Murphy said. Press Conference After a tour of the Rockaway site.

Nevertheless, Percicelli called Friday “a day of hope”.

“With every first responder coming here to raise their package, get vaccinated, and join the healthcare workers who have received their care, we thank them not only for everything they do to save lives and protect our communities but also for being role models that are emerging,” said Murphy. “They have faith in the safe and effective vaccines available to us. To help end the pandemic. ”“ And when we’re ready to move forward, this mega site will be a place for the general public to come to receive their vaccinations. ”

Jay Alderton, a firefighter and EMT in the nearby town of Morris, was the first to get a shot at Rockaway.

“We are all used to facing potentially dangerous situations, but COVID-19 has added a whole new layer of uncertainty and change for all of us,” Alderton said. “ Even with all the precautions we take during our daily exposure – wearing masks, constantly sterilizing our devices and stations, and the extra time lost in reaching patients while wearing PPE – there is still no guarantee that we can not only contract the virus, but the shocking truth is that it is We can return it to our loved ones. “

The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of New Jersey’s eligible population – about 4.7 million people – by the end of May, which officials admit is a daunting task.

Until now, there was At least 137,829 doses of the Coronavirus vaccine In New Jersey as of Wednesday, that is, a little over three weeks ago The first shots were given – Although this may be under-reported due to delays, officials said.

New Jersey received 572,250 doses and administered 155,458, according to an ongoing tally of Federal Centers for Disease Control.

The state administers the vaccine in stages. Currently, only those who work in health care and who work in long-term care facilities and other places of worshipers’ living, such as prisons, are eligible to be vaccinated in the so-called “1A” group.

On Thursday, police and firefighters became the first to be vaccinated in Group 1B. The state has not announced when more people in that group will be eligible.

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“Phased New Jersey implementation ensures that the limited vaccines we have will be distributed in an equitable manner,” Percicelli said Friday.

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There are about 650,000 healthcare workers in the state, and Murphy has said people in nursing homes should be fully vaccinated by early February. Officials said vaccines should be available to the general public by April or May.

Officials stressed on Friday that New Jersey, like other states, is at the mercy of the federal government to supply vaccines.

Asked if the state’s proposal was going as planned, Murphy said, “We don’t have the supply from the feds that we need. In the context of the huge imbalance between supply and demand, I love everything we do in the country to prepare. But they just don’t have the doses they can. Use them to their full capacity … that will take some time. “

The governor said that the matter may be complicated by the transfer of power in Washington, as an elected president Joe Biden Preparing to replace the president Donald Trump In January. 20.

“I believe in the fullness of time, once we get the supply chain from Washington to a turbulent place, and once we get a new administration and the handover is done, I think we’ll be in a usefully better place,” Murphy said.

New Jersey on Tuesday Open pre-registration portal online For residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when eligibility is expanded beyond health care workers and long-term care facilities. More than 450,000 people have been registeredAt times, this confused the system and resulted in error messages.

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State on Thursday Reported a new one-day record 6314 Positive tests and 123 other confirmed deaths have been confirmed as the number of hospital admissions decreased slightly for the first time since New Year’s Day.

Since March, the state has reported 19,646 deaths from the coronavirus – 1,7587 confirmed and 2,059 possible deaths from complications related to the virus.

“We’re not out of this yet,” Murphy said Friday. “My fear is that the next few weeks will be really difficult. But there is no doubt that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Arco died It can be accessed at [email protected].

Brent Johnson It can be accessed at [email protected].