Dozens of police officers and firefighters lined up to get vaccinated at International High School on Thursday morning.
Health officials inoculated more than 100 public safety employees with the Moderna vaccine in under two hours.
Governor Phil Murphy expanded Phase 1a, which previously included health care workers and long-term care home residents and staff, to include police officers and firefighters.
“We want to make sure that the people that protect us are protected,” said mayor Andre Sayegh. He said police officers and firefighters were hit hard during the pandemic.
100 firefighters and 100 police officers contracted the virus, said Sayegh. Police officer Francesco Scorpo, 34, died after contracting the new coronavirus.
Health officer Paul Persaud said firefighters and police officers from various towns, including Ridgewood, West Milford, and Totowa, were allowed to get inoculated at the site.
“I got the shot because it’s my civic responsibility to do so,” said fire chief Brian McDermott, who was the second person in Paterson to get the Moderna vaccine in late December.
McDermott urged public safety employees to get vaccinated. Number of firefighters willing to take the vaccine is slowly climbing, he said.
“It’s still very low,” said McDermott. “I think people are still waiting to see what’s going to happen after the second shot.”
McDermott predicted more firefighters will likely sign up to get vaccinated in the spring and summer.
“As people start taking the vaccine hesitancy will go down,” said Persaud.
“I was extremely nervous about doing this,” said public safety director Jerry Speziale before getting vaccinated. He went ahead anyway and got his shot on Thursday morning. “It didn’t hurt at all. This is what we need to do.”
Both McDermott and Speziale are trying to set an example for firefighters and police officers.
Murphy’s move to include firefighters and police officers in Phase 1a will likely ensure fewer vaccines are sitting on refrigerator shelves.
Persaud said Paterson has been rapidly moving through its vaccines. He said the first two shipments that were received have been exhausted. 700 people have received the Covid-19 vaccine from the Division of Health in little over a week, he said.
Persaud said he has roughly 800 vaccines on hand. He is expecting to receive a shipment of 4,000 doses early next week.
International High School has the capacity to vaccinate 1,000 people per day.
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