New Jersey coronavirus update: Vaccine mega-sites open in 2 locations; police and fire personnel 1st in line

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- The first two of New Jersey's planned six vaccine "mega-sites" opened today -- at Rockaway Townsquare Mall and Rowan College of South Jersey.

Governor Phil Murphy visited the Rockaway site, in Morris County alongside Rep. Mickie Sherrill.

All police and fire personnel in the Garden State will be eligible to get their vaccines at these sites today.

"This provides such hope for the future," Rep. Sherrill said. "It's wonderful today to see so many of our first responders getting this vaccine today."

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Medical staff is giving out the shots at the veterans home, which along with two other state-run facilities was the epicenter of a crisis that included the deaths of more than 200

The governor toured the facility in an old Sears department store in Rockaway Town Square Mall.
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Rep. Mickie Sherrill was also in attendance at the vaccination location opening in New Jersey.

One hundred first responders will receive their vaccination there Friday, but eventually this 30,000 square foot facility will be able to vaccinate 2,400 people per day when the shot becomes available to the general public in Phase 2.

The other site that opened was at Rowan College in South Jersey. A total of six will open in the coming weeks. These are in addition to the more than 100 vaccination sites statewide available in 20 of New Jersey's 21 counties.

NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says mass vaccinations will allow the state to use up its supply of vaccines.

"These mega-sites will be able to handle a large volume of individuals as we continue to move through eligible phases of vaccination toward the general public," Persichilli said. "The sites are part of a growing network of community-based sites that will help ensure fair and equitable access and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines."

The mega-site openings come as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in New Jersey.

New Jersey is has set a goal of vaccinating 70% of its adult population in the next six months. Those eligible to get the vaccine need to register online and make an appointment.

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New Jersey's plan to vaccinate police and firefighters is in contrast to New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo blocked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's attempt to vaccinate police and correction officers.

The mayor said they qualify for Phase 1a, Cuomo reiterated yesterday that they are squarely in Phase 1B.

Cuomo said the priority should be health care workers, and cited a dismal 14% vaccination rate of health care workers in city hospitals.

Cuomo said hospitals should be vaccinating at about their refusal rate. City officials have already said about 30% of health care workers are declining the vaccine.

The governor said if the hospitals do not reach their refusal rate - 70% in NYC hospitals - by Friday, the state will reallocate future vaccine.

Cuomo said he will announce his hospital reallocation plan later today.

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