By Emily Young
PATERSON, N.J. – “In Paterson, the long wait is over,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said Monday.
After receiving 300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Paterson began inoculating those that fall within the 1A category: health care employees, emergency first responders and EMS from the Paterson Fire Department.
Paterson Fire Chief Brian McDermott was the first firefighter vaccinated.
“I can tell you as firefighters our professional lives are completely changed, so let’s be part of the change to turn back the clock and get back to normalcy, and part of that is getting the vaccine,” he said.
Fire Chief McDermott actually polled his team to see how many of the 373 eligible EMS firefighters would want to get the vaccine. At the time, 112 said they would take the vaccine.
“The rest said no,” Chief McDermott said. “And then when it came time to schedule, that number was cut in half and went to 56. And I think there’s so much, I guess, not enough information for people.”
Each person has their own reason.
“It’s a multitude,” Chief McDermott explained “I don’t have enough information. I want to see what happens to the first people that go. I don’t need it. I had it and have full antibodies, and the list goes on.”
And this is part of a growing trend. At University Medical Hospital in Newark, 50 percent of employees polled did not want to take the vaccine. Hudson Regional Hospital reported the same exact thing.
But for the 50 workers in Paterson that got the vaccine on Monday like firefighter Kyle Broadfield, it’s a risk worth taking.
“It’s either take the risk of possibly getting COVID or getting the vaccine,” Broadfield said. “I thought at least get the vaccine, help to protect myself, especially because I’m out in the field with patients that have COVID.”
Starting next week, all healthcare workers and EMS will be able to get vaccinated at International High School. The city expects to finish inoculating all first responders and begin to vaccinate category 1B, which is designated as essential workers, by mid January.