3 state lawmakers urge Gov. Murphy to make it easier for seniors to get COVID-19 vaccine
Three New Jersey lawmakers are spearheading an effort to get more COVID-19 doses administered to the state’s vulnerable population.
This isn’t the first time that the lawmakers have written to Gov. Phil Murphy about this. They are sending their second letter in just over a month to get mobile vaccination units sent to senior communities.
“Second letter, still no response,” says Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin.
McGuckin says that he understands that the governor is busy. But he describes the lack of response to his first letter, sent in mid-January, as a slap in the face.
“The most important thing we’re hearing from our residents is they can’t travel 10 or 15 miles. They don’t drive, it’s too far. We have snow, we have bad roads to get to an event. And they don’t want to be put in a room with hundreds of people,” McGuckin says.
McGuckin wrote the letter with Assemblyman John Catalano and state Sen. James Holzapfel. They urge Murphy to create either mobile units to come to the communities or to authorize clubhouses and senior centers in those communities to administer the vaccines. They say that New Jersey has the chance to lead the nation in creating innovative alternatives to vaccine megasites.
“It could be a door-to-door thing where residents are notified. They could be given a time to attend so that there isn’t more than a couple in the building at any one time. This is easily done. All it takes is the will to do it,” McGuckin says.
With Johnson & Johnson’s new COVID-19 vaccine approved, McGuckin says that the fact that it is only a single dose would make this effort run even more smoothly.
“It would really make things that much easier, that much simpler. Particularly for those of our residents who are 65, 75, 85 not have to go through this twice, not have to make arrangements to travel. Let’s get this done,” he says.
The letter used Palm Beach County, Florida as a model for the idea. That county proposed to use its current COVID-19 testing sites in senior communities as mobile vaccination sites. The letter also said that if Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania could make that same proposal, why can’t New Jersey?