EAST ORANGE, NJ — Some East Orange residents were able to get their first dose of the Moderna vaccine on April 30 at a vaccination pop-up mobile clinic at East Orange Campus High School; a second pop-up clinic was held on May 4.
“The mobile clinic started administering the vaccination on a trial basis to preregistered participants in late March; however, it has also been available to administer the vaccination to eligible homebound residents,” East Orange public information officer Connie Jackson said on May 2. “Now that the Moderna vaccination is open to all residents 18 and older, we have created a schedule through the month of May to maintain East Orange Campus High School as our local mega-site and will be traveling to each ward, as well as making stops on Central Avenue and Main Street, for awareness, education and vaccine registrations.”
Department of Health and Human Services Director Monique Griffith explained that, after receiving the vaccination, each individual must be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes, to ensure they do not have an adverse reaction.
“When in the community, tents are set up to accommodate the volume of recipients and to create a monitoring area. When in brick-and-mortar structure, the monitoring is completed indoors,” Griffith said. “On Friday, we administered 41 doses of the Moderna vaccine to residents. We believe that any volume is successful, as it gets us that much closer to the level of immunity that we are seeking within the community.”
Reports of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine causing rare, life-threatening blood clots among women placed it on hold throughout the country. Now, however, the shot has been cleared to be distributed once again.
Jackson confirmed that East Orange will be administering the J&J vaccine.
“In fact, many residents are waiting for the Johnson & Johnson shot,” she said. “Ideally, that is the shot that we would like to use when we are set up in our business corridors on Main Street and Central Avenue. We are hopeful we will be able to capture a larger segment of a traditionally harder-to-reach population.”
Griffith added that the city will support vaccinations for teenagers when they are approved by the FDA.
“Given that we have run a childhood immunization program for decades, the process and collaboration with parents and the EOSD will be similar, because our goal is to make the process simple and accessible,” Griffith said. “For example, we may offer clinics on the weekends, enabling parents to accompany them without needing to take time off from work. Alternatively, we may offer clinics at school sites. Although we have seen some interested teenagers and interest from parents to have their households fully vaccinated, we believe there will be great need for education on how the vaccine may be beneficial for adolescents.”
With the rush to get vaccinated, there is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of this pandemic.
“In East Orange, administering the COVID-19 vaccination has always been a priority from day one,” Jackson said. “We have worked closely with our state and county health officials, as well as community partners like Newark Community Health Centers and East Orange General Hospital, to execute an awareness and outreach campaign that would alleviate fears and encourage people to get vaccinated.”
Griffith believes widespread vaccination is the key weapon in the fight against COVID-19.
“This is an important shift given that black and brown communities were impacted by COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate, and it appears to still be the case,” Griffith said. “Making the provision of vaccines a priority in these communities can further aid in reducing the concentration of COVID-19 and aid in the larger community getting back to a pre-COVID level of functioning.”
According to Jackson, vaccinations will be administered free of charge, but those with Medicaid or individual health insurance should bring ID cards to their appointment, as administrative fees will be billed to insurance. The vaccination clinic is open to anyone 18 years or older who lives or works in East Orange. To make an appointment, email [email protected] For more information, call the DHHS at 973-266-5480.
Photos Courtesy of East Orange