Vaccine milestone: 90% of eligible Paterson residents have at least 1 shot of COVID-19 vaccine
The city of Paterson celebrated a COVID-19 milestone on Thursday as the first city of its size to have 90% of eligible residents received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We made history here. We did, and you should all be proud of the work that you performed,” said Mayor Andre Sayegh.
The mayor and city officials held a luncheon to commemorate the millstone and celebrate the city employees who made it happen.
“We knew it was just for the greater good. Bigger than us,” says Paterson contract tracer Joia Jenkins.
Jenkins is normally a lead inspector for the city but became a contact tracer during the pandemic.
“We risked our own families. We risked our own health. But we knew it was bigger than us,” she says.
Sayegh credits the milestone to partnerships with local hospitals, schools, pharmacies and community groups. He says that the city did not just reach out to the vulnerable populations but visited them as well with people that they trusted.
“We saw that a lot of African American men weren’t coming to our point of dispensing sites. So, we started recruiting athletes, educators and other influential African American leaders,” Sayegh said. “And I feel that helped allay some of the concerns or some of the fears that people may have had.”
But despite the celebration, officials say that work is not complete and that their goal is to have 100% of the city vaccinated.
“There are still a lot more people in Paterson unvaccinated. And then we also have the kids and then the boosters,” says Paterson Health Officer Dr. Paul Persaud.
Federal health officials are in the process of reviewing if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children under 12.