Andre Sayegh Special to the USA TODAY Network

Vaccines don’t save lives. Vaccinations do. And in Paterson we are doing our level best to save people’s lives by getting them vaccinated.

Since Dec. 28, we have inoculated approximately 10,000 people. Early on we adopted a first-come, first-serve policy for any eligible individual in New Jersey because this virus doesn’t discriminate and neither do we.

We pivoted to a hybrid model because we were receiving fewer doses on a weekly basis. Therefore, switching to the state appointment system which was plagued by problems from the onset, made more sense with less of the vaccine. Neither system is perfect but we want more Paterson residents to register and I invite all Paterson residents to make an appointment to be alerted the moment he or she becomes eligible.

In an effort to encourage more of our elderly to get vaccinated, we carved out special hours to accommodate any senior citizen who may have a hard time navigating the website. Moreover, we afforded all eligible Paterson residents an opportunity to get the shot by establishing exclusive walk in hours for them at our point of dispensing.

Although we have been successful in our vaccination endeavors, we are concerned that roughly 1% of those who were inoculated are African-American males. In response to that reality, we are working with FEMA, the state and the county to open a community-based pop-up vaccine center at a black church.

We are also working with the same partners to activate another site to make it more accessible. In Paterson, we are resolute in our determination to putting an end to this pandemic.

This week we announced a partnership between the Paterson Housing Authority and CVS Pharmacy. The aforementioned collaboration’s objective is to inoculate all of the older adults who reside in apartments operated under the auspices of the Paterson Housing Authority.

We are not alone in this effort. Passaic County is a model of efficiency at their vaccination site in Woodland Park. Moreover, St. Joseph’s is not only vaccinating individuals on their main campus but they also opened a point of dispensing in the south side of Paterson. This is a total team endeavor.

It is encouraging to have a president in the White House who gets it and is going to mobilize our nation to defeat this virulent virus once and for all. As Americans if there has ever been a time to become the Re-United States of America, that time is now.

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