Essex County medical facility gets $400,000 grant to bolster COVID-19 vaccination efforts
A New Jersey health care facility was recently awarded a grant to help doctors ramp up COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
It comes as more than 1 million people in the United States have died from the virus.
And a new poll from Monmouth University shows that only 23% of Americans are worried about the virus. This is reflected in vaccination rates, which have hit a wall.
Doctors say hospitalizations from COVID are going up and that booster shots will be more important than ever, especially as the state goes into the summer and autumn months.
Places like Essex County are seeing the numbers on new COVID cases ebb and flow steadily with numbers much lower than they were this time last year. As a state, New Jersey’s vaccination rates are high. However, the number of people who've received a second booster dose continues to lag.
The New Jersey Department of Health awarded Salerno Medical Associates at $400,000 grant to ramp up vaccination efforts in Newark, Orange, East Orange and the surrounding areas.
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“With uptick of cases, with constant variants and new variants and more infectious variants, we really need to keep the vigilance and keep doing our part because this is not going away. This is the new normal,” says Dr. Alexander Salerno.
The neighborhoods that will benefit from the grant are predominately Black and have historically distrusted vaccines. Salerno says that it is time to change the messenger and the messaging.
“We'd like to see if we could get other folks, like more leaders in the community, to talk about it with us…incorporating medicine with more socialness of it all,” Salerno says.
East Orange, Orange and Newark currently have the lowest vaccination rates in Essex County. The grant would help efforts to reach those who are under-vaccinated, especially young people.
“It's more the younger crowd that we're seeing - the ones fresh out of college who might have just gotten boosted for work purposes. But other than that, we don't really see them coming back to get their second dose or other boosters,” says Jonathan Gonzalez, of Salerno Medial Associates.
Salerno Medical Associates says efforts are now going towards health fairs and partnerships with local health departments. The facility is already looking ahead to the fall for possible surges.