ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. announced that Essex County has received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 and that the first vaccinations were given on Saturday, Dec. 26. Receiving the first vaccinations were Dr. Lionel Anicette, medical director at the Essex County Correctional Facility; Dr. Naipaul Rambaran, medical director of occupational health and medicine at the Essex County Hospital Center; and Bonnie Rogers, a nurse from the Essex County West Caldwell School of Technology. Essex County is following guidelines from the NJ Department of Health that sets priorities of who is eligible to receive the vaccine in the first phase. To make an appointment, visit www.EssexCOVID.org or call 973-877-8456.
“Receiving the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel and getting vaccinated will help tremendously in stopping the spread of the deadly coronavirus. We have been looking forward to this day and worked in partnership with our mayors, local health officials, public safety officers and emergency management personnel to make sure our sites would be ready and operational as soon as the vaccines were received,” DiVincenzo said. “I encourage everyone to get the vaccine.”
“Today is a great day for all of Essex County,” Freeholder President Brendan Gill said. “By administering our first of many COVID-19 vaccinations, we have officially given our residents a new option — their best option — to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 and putting their lives at risk. I thank our county executive, Joe DiVincenzo; our health officers; our Office of Emergency Management; and so many others throughout our county leadership for their hard work in implementing this process and protecting our citizens.”
Limited doses of the vaccine are available, and the State Department of Health has compiled a phased-in approach to ensure the vaccine is distributed in a fair and equitable manner until larger quantities of the vaccine become available. Those who are eligible to receive the vaccine first are paid and unpaid health care workers who may have contact with infected patients or infectious materials, and people who are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, including those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health issues. Next to receive the vaccine will be critical populations, which include, but are not limited to, health care workers; first responders; food and agriculture workers; transportation, education and child care, energy, water and sanitation, law enforcement and government employees; adults at higher risk due to being in long-term care, immunocompromised, incarcerated, in homeless shelters, in group homes and in other congregate settings such as psychiatric facilities; and others at high risk, such as people in communities that have disproportionately acquired or died from COVID-19, colleges and universities, people with disabilities and people who are under- or uninsured. The general population will be vaccinated last.
Essex County has set up five vaccination centers. Each vaccination site is set up in a similar fashion. Residents entering the site will first be pre-screened to verify they have an appointment. Those who do not have an appointment will not be allowed to receive the vaccine that day. Social-distancing guidelines will be followed at every site and areas will be sanitized on a regular basis throughout the day.