COVID-19 vaccinations continue in township

Photo Courtesy of Sonia Whyte
The Essex County mobile COVID-19 vaccine unit was in operation at the Chris Gatling Recreation Center on Thursday, March 18.

IRVINGTON, NJ — Residents have been able to breathe a bit more easily since receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines on Monday, March 29, at the Irvington Housing Authority, courtesy of the Essex County mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit.

“Close to 200 people have been vaccinated today,” Department of Health and Senior Services Director Sonia Whyte said on Monday, March 29. “Since we’ve started on March 12, we try to register at least 200 people on a regular day.

“Typically, they administer vaccines on Thursdays, but we had it twice this week. Once a week, we’ve been trying to vaccinate at least 200 people. We’re alternating between the Community Room at the Housing Authority and the Chris Gatling Recreation Center on Union Avenue. It’s our two Essex County popup vaccine clinics.”

When residents enter the vaccination site by appointment, they are required to stand in line, sign in, fill out paperwork and wait until they’re called to be vaccinated. Once vaccinated, residents are instructed to sit down and wait the cautionary 15 minutes in case of side effects. Whyte said there have been no side effects or abnormalities of any kind exhibited by residents since the popup clinics started.

“We haven’t seen anything. They have a really good staff there that does a good job with observation,” Whyte said, adding that people who get the vaccination are given literature to read about the vaccination and what they might expect. “I would say the vast majority of them are sitting there and they’re reading it over carefully. Thank goodness we haven’t had anyone have a bad reaction so far.”

In Whyte’s opinion, the vaccination robocalls throughout the township and the spread of information from person to person have encouraged more residents to come in to get vaccinated.

“There has definitely been an influx of residents coming in to get vaccinated. Our phones are ringing off the hook,” Whyte said. “People want the vaccines, they definitely want to get vaccinated, and we want to get it to them as quickly as possible. I do think that people want to get vaccinated, it’s just getting access to it, which has always been a challenge. So we try to make it very accessible for people to get. That’s the goal of the Essex County popup clinic. It’s really good and we’ve been pleased about the demand for it, which is great. It’s a huge push regarding the robocalls and letting people know it’s available, people talking to each other, information getting around because of word of mouth.

“I think people should get vaccinated if they want to get vaccinated,” Whyte continued. “It’s just a point to make sure that they can get it. That’s my biggest goal right now … making sure that everybody that wants to get vaccinated, gets vaccinated. That’s the big push, because we don’t want all of these obstacles, in order to get these vaccinations set up, so that we can get the immunity in our community, as quickly as possible, and get back to some sort of normalcy. The goal is to get it to the people who want it.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only vaccine being administered at the popup clinics. Appointments are available by telephone only. To register, residents can call 973-399-6202, 973-399-6674, 973-399-6716 or 973-399-6679.