First come, first served vaccine site opens in Paterson with large line of people

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Hundreds of people lined up early Thursday morning in hopes of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Paterson, where only 350 doses were available on a first-come, first-serve basis to any New Jersey resident who qualified.

The vaccination site was at International High School, and Paterson Mayor Sayegh decided to open up vaccinations to any all eligible state residents so people don't have to make an appointment that could be weeks or months away.

But critics say, instead, it means seniors standing out in the cold for hours.

"This virus doesn't discriminate, nor do we," Sayegh said. "COVID-19 doesn't know boundaries or barriers, and Patersonians interact with people from outside out city's premise or confines I should say, so it could be transmitted. People have been waiting weeks and months. But if you choose to do so, you can come here and wait for a few hours. To me, it's worth the risk."

The site also offers appointments, but it's not the only option.

On Friday, Sayegh is expected to announce a new process for individuals to receive their first dose of the vaccine at Paterson's point of dispensing beginning next Wednesday, February 3.

Due to the shortage of supply, the city will implement a hybrid model. Paterson will encourage Passaic County residents to make an online appointment for the inoculation. Additionally, the mayor will describe a walk-in process that prioritizes Paterson's senior citizens.

On Wednesday, six new cases of the variant were reported in the state, one of which was fatal.

Some 2 million people in New Jersey are pre-registered for the vaccine, but the state will only receive about 130,000 doses a week.

Health care workers posted at International High School are busy with what vaccine supplies they have, administering doses to the first tier group of people who qualify -- 65 years old and older residents, workers across the field of healthcare, first responders and those with compromised immune systems.

For residents who have received the first dose of the vaccine, they should have made an appointment to receive their second dose. If they hadn't, they should contact the site.

By the end of the weekend, if you are still not certain how you will get your second dose appointment, you can contact New Jersey's Vaccination Call Center (855-568-0545) and operators will assist you in scheduling one.

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