By GABRIELLA DRAGONE
PATERSON, NJ – On Thursday, The New Jersey Department of Health joined Mayor Andre Sayegh to announce a partnership to get Patersonians boosted. Paterson has one of the highest vaccination rates in the State, yet, with boosters, Paterson and Passaic County are seeing slow uptake. This partnership is seeking to improve access and outreach.
“We’re proud of the partnership with our Department of Health,” Sayegh said. “Today we’re proud to announce that as part of this partnership, we are going to have the vaccine ambassador to help us with the booster shots.”
“We’ve done great for the primary series of vaccines, but we are behind when it comes to boosters,” Paterson’s Public Health Officer Dr. Paul Persaud said. “We have to definitely use every tool in our toolbox to make sure that our rates increase. I’m not happy with where we are at this point in time.”
As of February 28, there were approximately 42,000 cases of COVID19 in Passaic County and over 85 hospitalizations, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. In the Department’s observations, Black and Brown communities in Paterson are disproportionately affected by this pandemic. 50% of the COVID-19 cases and almost 60% of COVID-19 deaths were in Hispanic residents. Black residents accounted for more of COVID-19 deaths.
“Vaccination has been shown to prevent severe illness and hospitalization,” Kenese Robinson, New Jersey Division of Health Vaccine Ambassador said. “We must do all we can to keep our residents safe and protected and that includes having them stay up to date with vaccinations including boosters.”
Earlier this year officials announced that based on state record keeping Paterson has achieved 100% vaccination for residents 50 years-old and older and 85-100% for other ages between 12 and 49, yet Paterson continues to lag the primary series among those five to 11 as well as with boosters.
“We still have more work to do,” Robinson said. “Over 59,000 eligible Paterson residents still haven’t received their booster and we find more people become eligible every day. Throughout Paterson we will continue to add new sites that offer convenience. We have more than 50 sites throughout the city administering boosters.”
The Department is partnering with multiple municipalities through the county ambassador program. The goal of the program is to have 70% of those eligible boosted and to increase the priorities in ages five to 11. The Department is doing phone outreach and text messages to Paterson residents who are overdue or are approaching their due date with their boosters. Lastly, to maximize convenience, they are meeting with residents where they facilitate senior high rise clinics.
For more information visit covid19.nj.gov or call the COVID Call Center at 855-568-0545.
“I look forward to working with the city leadership, the Health Department and everybody on board to get our booster rate up,” Robinson said.