N.J. accelerates coronavirus vaccinations with first ‘megasite’

Jan 8, 2021

New Jersey officials toured one of the state’s first two coronavirus vaccination “megasites” Friday, the latest steps in its effort to inoculate residents against COVID-19.

The Morris County site, inside a former Sears store, will begin by giving shots to about 1,000 people per day, but it is capable of vaccinating up to 2,400 people daily depending on the supply from the federal government, officials said.

Gov. Phil Murphy at NJ's Morris County 'mega site'. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office)

Also opening Friday was a second megasite, in Gloucester County, which Gov. Phil Murphy plans to visit on Monday. Officials said at least four other vaccination megasites are planned.

“Today is a day of hope, a hope for a future better than the present that we live in,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said at Friday’s opening of the Morris County location.

New Jersey is currently vaccinating frontline health care workers, as well as residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and it recently made police and firefighters eligible for the shot, too.

“They have similarly put themselves in harm’s way for more than 10 months,” Murphy said of the state’s first responders. “They’ve responded to medical emergencies, sometimes being the first on site. They have been the ones responding to calls of large parties or other superspreader gatherings, where compliance with masking and common sense was low.”

Jay Alderton, a Morris Township firefighter and EMT, was among the first to receive the shot early Friday morning.

“It actually hurt less than the flu shot,” he said. “It’s an honor to be able to get it.”