Murphy Says Vacant Mall Anchor A Prime Spot For COVID Vaccine Site

MOORESTOWN — Gov. Phil Murphy called the former Lord & Taylor anchor store an ideal location for COVID-19 vaccinations.

“This is a great example of repurposing the hollowing out of American retail,” the governor said Friday.

Murphy had just finished a walk-through of the site with other state and local officials, including state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, Burlington County Commissioner Felicia Hopson and Willingboro Mayor Tiffani Worthy. U.S Rep. Andy Kim and state Sen.Troy Singleton also were in attendance, with the latter getting a vaccination shot.

The group saw the site’s 20 plus vaccination stations, its big square waiting area and its two appointment tables, for making second shot appointments. Murphy praised the officials running the site for placing the tables by the exit doors, so patients couldn’t leave without setting dates for second doses.

The Moorestown Mall site is administering the Pfizer vaccine, according to Virtua Health CEO Dennis Pullin. Pfizer’s product requires two doses taken 21 days apart.

But the problem, Pullin added, continues to be that the mega site doesn’t have enough vaccinations to administer. Officials now estimate that the mall, with its size, proximity to Route 38 and Virtua staffing capabilities, can handle over 3,000 shots per day.

Yet only 500 were completed on Friday, according to Murphy. The governor said the state is getting 100,000 doses a week at this point, and that the supply probably won’t increase that much for another month or two.

“We still don’t have the supply from the feds that we need,” Murphy said. “But we have the distribution set up increasingly.”

The governor also called the state’s distribution system “as good as there is in any American state.”

New Jersey now has 175 locations open for COVID vaccinations, according to state officials.

In December, Murphy announced the mall as one of six state-run mega sites for COVID vaccinations. As planned, the locations have been opening throughout the month of January, and the governor visited three of them, including another South Jersey site, at Rowan College of South Jersey, in the first half of the month.

The Moorestown Mall opened Jan. 15, the second South Jersey location, after Rowan, to begin vaccinating residents. But Murphy made his first visit to the site on Friday, a week after it started operating.

He was happy to at least see several people, officials and residents alike, take their shots Friday morning. But he was especially excited about Singleton, who is Black, sitting down for his first dose.

The governor said it was important to show other people of color that the vaccine is safe.

“That’s a particular plea I would make,” he added. “Because there is rightful skepticism.”

Singleton echoed Murphy’s plea.

“My intention today is to encourage folks who look like me to make sure they sign up for appointments and to make sure they get this,” he said. 

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