Paterson makes plea for Black citizens to get COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The mayor of one of New Jersey's largest cities is pleading for African-Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and he's hoping some influential friends can help get out the word.

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh was joined by Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Pastor Kenneth Clayton, former NFL player Leonard Marshall, and former MLB player Dwight Gooden Thursday to address the importance of the coronavirus vaccination and encourage the Black community to register for the shot.

Since Paterson has begun inoculations, the African American community has accounted for less than 5% of individuals receiving the vaccine. Statewide, only 2% of recipients are Black males.

"I got the shot, my wife got the shot, our friends are here getting the shot," Marshall said. "It's up to you to decide, are you going to be a leader or are you going to be a follower? Make the decision. Make the right choice."

Sayegh said he also wants to take the vaccine on the road to a Black church to encourage African-Americans to get the shot.

"The call to action: Come and get vaccinated," he said. "Protect yourselves. We want to live, and we want you to live too."

The event was held at International High School, the city's mass vaccination site, which is launching a hybrid appointment/walk-in approach to distribution after its first-come, first served site led to long lines of people bundled up in the cold for hours.

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In the coming days, officials expect a higher number of scheduled second doses after the nor'easter delayed appointments. The city plans on opening the vaccination site on Saturday for first doses, as well as second doses that had to be rescheduled from the shut down on Monday.

Sayegh recently announced that vaccination sites across the city would be scheduling appointments between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. via the state registration portal. Then, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the site will be open for walk-ins for Paterson residents and Paterson seniors.

Officials expect there will be roughly 75 walk-in doses available per day.

The change came after hundreds of people lined up outside International High School in hopes of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, with shots available to any eligible state resident.

Critics say that led to seniors standing in the cold for hours, and Sayegh is hoping the changes will alleviate those long lines.

All six of the state's vaccine mega-sites reopened Wednesday.

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