East Orange officials seek ways to increase vaccination rates amid hesitancy

As fear over the delta variant of COVID-19 grows, some health officials and local leaders are still trying to calm fears about the vaccine.

News 12 Staff

Jul 21, 2021, 2:26 AM

Updated 1,006 days ago

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As fear over the delta variant of COVID-19 grows, some health officials and local leaders are still trying to calm fears about the vaccine.
Essex County continues to welcome walk-ins for vaccine shots. But as of Tuesday, testing for the virus will also be available at all of the sites. This comes as the vaccination rate in the county remains under 50%.
“Reality check, if we don’t get it together, we may go back,” East Orange Mayor Ted Green says.
Green is referring to mask mandates and COVID-19 restrictions. He says that he wants to quell the fear over the vaccine and has been doing so ever since he and his wife contracted the virus in the fall.
His wife needed help breathing in the hospital. The virus also forced Green to miss his father’s funeral.
“It was very emotional because my dad was like my big brother,” he says.
But stories like these may not be resonating with all New Jersey residents. A new study out of Rutgers University found that some Black and Latinx residents are hesitant about getting the vaccine even as they know how devastating the virus can be first-hand.
Rutgers interviewed about 100 people for the study. Some of the participants questioned how a vaccine for a new virus could be developed so rapidly when other diseases have been around for decades.
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They also wondered if vaccines work against variants, and they wanted clear and transparent information. Many also wanted to see how others would respond to vaccinations first.
Green says that East Orange is still trying to rally from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause which he says scared off many people who were on the fence about getting the vaccine.
“As soon as it came on the news, doubt came back into people at that time. They said, ‘Nope. I told you. I’m not doing it,’” Green says.
The city is working with religious leaders, nonprofits, county officials and other towns to increase vaccination numbers. Green says that pop-up vaccination sites remain key. One is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Central Avenue and Old Sandford Street.


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