While touring the COVID-19 vaccine "megasite" at the Moorestown Mall on Friday, Sen. Troy Singleton got his first dose.
MOORESTOWN, NJ — State Sen. Troy Singleton was publicly vaccinated against the coronavirus on Friday, and he's hoping his actions encourage other African Americans to follow suit.
Singleton received his first dose of the vaccine at the state's "megasite" at the former Lord & Taylor store at the Moorestown Mall, his office announced. He also joined Gov. Phil Murphy on a tour of the site, which opened last week.
"Due to the expansion of eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by the Centers for Disease Control and as a pre-registered Type-2 diabetic, I was able to receive my first vaccine shot today," Singleton said. "As President Joe Biden has called for an aggressive expansion of vaccine production under the Defense Production Act and made a commitment to release more doses, it is important that we continue to encourage everyone to register to receive their shot. This is critically important in the African American community, as only 3 percent of the 456,000 doses administered here in New Jersey have been received by African Americans. This pandemic has had an especially devastating effect on this community, with people of color being hospitalized at a higher rate and dying more often of this disease."
Public officials across South Jersey have done their part to try to motivate African Americans to get the vaccine.
During a news conference on Thursday, officials in Camden County noted that the coronavirus reduces life expectancy for everyone, but it is shortened by three years for African Americans, as opposed to one year for white people.
After getting the first vaccine at the "megasite" in Gloucester County two weeks ago, Dr. Josette Palmer spoke about the concerns among the African American community.
"Unfortunately, as an African American, I also know how fearful my people are of getting the vaccine," Palmer said. "The concerns with modern medicine have dated back years, going to the early 1900s with the Tuskegee Experiment. Even though there's reluctance, I find it every important to be able to take part in this program. I'm excited to protect my patients, to protect my staff, my family and myself."
"I felt it was my responsibility to receive this shot publicly today because I am deeply aware of the distrust and hesitation felt by many in the African American community to get the vaccine," Singleton said. "This is born frankly out of the appalling and unacceptable historical inequities and mistreatment of people of color with respect to health care and medical experimentation in our nation's history
Murphy and Rep. Andy Kim were both on hand as Singleton got his shot. They ribbed him as he got the shot, with Murphy telling Singleton, "you've got guns that remind me of me" and Kim asking where his lollipop is. Singleton took the vaccine and his role seriously.
"In order for us to aggressively push back on this pandemic in the communities that have been hit the hardest, we must begin by increasing faith in the science and the institutions who have brought this vaccine forward," Singleton said. "I received the vaccine with confidence today, and it is my hope that others will come together for each other and the greater good to do so as well."
The "megasite" at the mall opened one week ago, and Murphy took a tour of the site Friday morning, the same day the last of New Jersey's six "megasites" — in Atlantic City and at the Meadowlands — opened. Video of the tour can be seen below.
As a "megasite," vaccinations are available to residents throughout the state. Vaccinations at the site are available by appointment only; walk-ins cannot be accommodated. Those without confirmed appointments from this specific site will not be granted access.
Appointments will be made based on the availability of vaccine and will be restricted to persons eligible under the New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Plan, which prioritizes groups based on age, employment, health condition and other factors.
Residents can register online at virtua.org/vaccine to receive an email or text notification as appointments are available. Anyone who previously registered for vaccine notifications through the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) must also register on the Virtua portal in order to make an appointment for the "megasite" at the Moorestown Mall.
The Virtua portal's online registration form includes questions related to vaccine eligibility. The state prioritizes groups based on age, job category and health condition.
Who is eligible for vaccination at this time?
Currently, vaccines are available to the following groups:
Healthcare Personnel (Phase 1A)
Paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials, including, but not limited to:
- Licensed healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists
- Staff like receptionists, janitors, mortuary services, laboratory technicians
- Consultants, per diem, and contractors who are not directly employed by the facility
- Unpaid workers like health professional students, trainees, volunteers, and essential caregivers
- Community health workers, doulas, and public health professionals like Medical Reserve Corps
- Personnel with variable venues like EMS, paramedics, funeral staff, and autopsy workers
- All workers in acute, pediatric, and behavioral health hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers
- All workers in health facilities like psychiatric facilities, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and rehabs
- All workers in clinic-based settings like urgent care clinics, dialysis centers, and family planning sites
- All workers in long-term care settings like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes, and others
- All workers in occupational-based healthcare settings like health clinics within workplaces, shelters, jails, colleges and universities, and K-12 schools
- All workers in community-based healthcare settings like PACE and Adult Living Community Nursing
- All workers in home-based settings like hospice, home care, and visiting nurse services
- All workers in office-based healthcare settings like physician and dental offices
- All workers in public health settings like local health departments, LINCS agencies, harm reduction centers, and medicinal marijuana programs
- All workers in retail, independent, and institutional pharmacies
- Other paid or unpaid people who work in a healthcare setting, who may have direct or indirect contact with infectious persons or materials, and who cannot work from home.
Long-Term Care Residents and Staff (Phase 1A)
All residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities, including:
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Veterans homes
- Group homes like residential care homes, adult family homes, adult foster homes, and intellectual and developmental disabilities group homes
- HUD 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program residences
- Institutional settings like psychiatric hospitals, correctional institutions, county jails, and juvenile detention facilities (for eligible minors, e.g. 16+ years of age may be eligible for Pfizer vaccine under the emergency use authorization)
- Other vulnerable, congregate, long-term settings
First Responders (Phase 1B)
Sworn law enforcement, firefighters, and other first responders, including:
- New Jersey State Police troopers
- Municipal and county police officers
- Campus police officers
- Detectives in prosecutors' offices and state agencies
- State agency/authority law enforcement officers (such as State Park Police and Conservation officers, Palisades Interstate Parkway officers, Human Services police, and NJ Transit police)
- Investigator, parole and secured facilities officers
- Aeronautical operations specialists
- Sworn federal law enforcement officers and special agents
- Bi-state law enforcement officers (such as the Port Authority)
- Court Security Officers
- Paid and unpaid members of firefighting services (structural and wildland)
- Paid and unpaid members of search and rescue units including technical rescue units and HAZMAT teams
- Paid and unpaid firefighters who provide emergency medical services
- Paid and unpaid members of Industrial units that perform fire, rescue and HAZMAT services
- Members of State Fire Marshal's Offices
- Bi-state fire service personnel (such as the Port Authority)
Individuals at High Risk (Phase 1B)
Individuals aged 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus. These conditions include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Individuals who are pregnant and those in an immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant are also eligible but should follow CDC guidance and first discuss vaccination with their medical provider before receiving the vaccine.If you are currently eligible, click here for more information on where to get vaccinated.
Who is eligible for vaccination next?
- Additional frontline essential workers (Phase 1B)
- Other essential workers and people living in congregate settings (Phase 1C)
- General population (Phase 2)
This group was designated as 1B, and will likely be next:
- Foodservice workers
- Port Authority workers
- New Jersey Transit workers
- Teachers, staff, and childcare workers
- Workers who support radio, print, internet and television news and media services
- Other critical workers (CISA)
- Other essential workers
This group was originally designated as 1C:
- People living or working in congregate or overcrowded settings – such as colleges and universities
- People living or working in congregate or overcrowded settings – such as migrant workers
- People living or working in congregate or overcrowded settings - other tribal populations
- Other people at high risk of COVID-19 illness due to comorbidities, occupations, demographics, etc.
NOTE: Vaccination phases are tentative and subject to change. The movement between vaccination eligibility phases may be fluid. One phase may overlap with another. Not all individuals in each phase will be vaccinated before opening to additional groups, and not all groups within a specific phase will be made eligible to receive the vaccine at the same time.
An announcement regarding when additional frontline essential workers and individuals at high risk will be eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1B and Phase 1C will be forthcoming, officials said.