By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

As COVID-19 vaccines roll into New Jersey, Montclair will host a town hall to discuss the the vaccine on Thursday, Dec. 17 and Essex County has announced it will open five vaccination centers.

Today, Maritza Beniquez, a University Hospital nurse from Union City, received the first vaccine in New Jersey. 

The vaccine will be rolled out in phases. Phase 1A, the current phase, covers health care workers and staff and residents at long-term-care facilities. About 650,000 people are expected to receive the vaccine during this phase. 

Phase 1B will cover other essential workers, before the vaccine is then made available to the general public. 

For the Montclair town hall set for 10 a.m., the participants include Dr. Valerie Allusson, the chief medical officer at Mountainside Hospital; Dr. Zaza Cohen, from the hospital’s pulmonology department; Dr. Arthur Calise, from the hospital’s department of emergency medicine; Health Department Director Sue Portuese; Township Manager Timothy Stafford; and Recovery Task Force co-chairs David Pascrell and Shante Palmer. 

The registration link for the town hall may be accessed here. 

Residents are asked to submit questions beforehand to Mayor Sean Spiller who is hosting the event at questions@seanspiller.com

On Dec. 15, University Hospital in Newark began to administer the first COVID-19 vaccines in New Jersey.

The vaccine by Pfizer received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11. A second vaccine by Moderna is expected to be approved as well.

Frontline healthcare workers are being given priority for the first vaccines, followed by residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and other high-risk populations, before the vaccines are made available to the general public. 

Murphy said officials hope for an overlapping vaccine schedule: As the first group receives their second dose, a second group receives their first dose. It is likely that April and May will be the time period in which the vaccine will be offered to the general public. 

Vaccine sites

This week, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo announced that five different locations in Essex County will serve as vaccination centers. When they will be available is still unknown, said DiVincenzo.

Residents will be able to make appointments at the  center that is assigned to their town. 

The five centers are: 

  • Essex County College, 303 University Ave., Newark (gym entrance on West Market Street): Newark, East Orange and Irvington.
  • Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology, 498-544 West Market St., Newark: Newark, East Orange and Irvington. (This site will be set up at a later date.)
  • Former Kmart building, 235 Prospect Ave., West Orange: West Orange, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Montclair, Newark, Nutley and Verona.
  • Livingston Mall, former Sears building, 112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston (entrance is in the back): Livingston, Belleville, Maplewood, Millburn, Newark, Orange and South Orange.
  • Essex County West Caldwell School of Technology, 620 Passaic Ave., West Caldwell: West Caldwell, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Newark, North Caldwell and Roseland.

For Montclair residents, the assigned center will be the former Kmart building on Prospect Avenue in West Orange. 

When vaccines are available, the sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents can make appointments at www.EssexCOVID.org or by calling 973-877-8456. Appointments only can be made after the county receives the vaccines. Vaccinations will be given in two doses. Residents making reservations to receive the vaccination will receive two appointments. It is critical that residents attend both appointments.

Residents will be asked to provide their medical insurance information and their insurance provider will be billed $16.94 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second dose. If a resident does not have insurance, the cost of the vaccine will be covered by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provide Relief Fund. There will be no out-of-pocket expenses charged to residents.

Each vaccination site is set up in a similar fashion. Residents entering the site will first be pre-screened to verify they have an appointment. Those who do not have an appointment will not be allowed to receive the vaccine that day. Residents will then proceed to a registration table where they will be provided with their paperwork for their visit and receive a card to remind them about their second appointment. After being inoculated with the vaccine, residents will be required to wait 15 minutes while they are monitored for any side effects.