Jersey City begins vaccinating teachers, school staff in effort to reopen schools next month
Jersey City has started to vaccinate the city’s teachers in a concerted effort to open school buildings for in-person learning next month.
All of this week’s COVID-19 doses in Jersey City will be going to teachers and school staff. The district began giving out the vaccines at Ferris High School on Monday. The goal is to vaccinate 4,700 staffers in time for an April 22 return to school.
Among those receiving the vaccine on Monday were husband and wife Wilfred and Kim Dasher.
“He was on a ventilator for 20 days, and he got out,” Kim says about her husband.
Wilfred contracted COVID-19 in April and remained hospitalized for 106 days. He is a boiler technician at School 26.
“Every day was a sad day. I received phone calls from the hospital saying they don’t think he would make it. But he’s here, so please, don’t be afraid. Get the shot,” Kim says.
“It was crazy. I didn’t know I was on a ventilator. I didn’t know what was going on. I just woke up in the hospital,” says Wilfred.
Robert Arena is a special-education teacher and track coach at PS 15. He says that teachers, students and parents alike have been waiting for April 22 for school to return.
“We’ve been talking with the parents. They are very excited for it. We’ve always helped out with the community,” he says.
The vaccine supply for Jersey City’s 258,000 residents has been scarce. But that changed this week.
“This week in Jersey City we will have close to 5,000 doses. It’s a better allotment than what we expected,” says Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “This will allow us to administer both shots prior to the target date of April 22 to fully open our schools. Supply jumped from 2,000 to 5,000 doses.”
Included are 1,800 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"The additional J&J that we are getting is really carved out for our senior population, and we hope to get our chronic homeless involved in that process as well,” says Jersey City Health and Human Services Director Stacy Flanagan.
The vaccination is open to all school staff including, teachers, custodians, guidance counselors and others. The doses will once again be available to the public next week.