PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The mayor of Paterson, New Jersey is taking tech out of COVID vaccines by offering the shots to people the old-fashioned way.

As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported Thursday, many say they’d rather wait in line for hours than wait online for months.

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Esther Richmond waited since 5:30 a.m. Thursday, dancing outside the International High School in Paterson to try to stay warm in the bitter cold.

“Were you nervous that you wouldn’t get in?” Moore asked.

“I was nervous I wouldn’t get in, yes. Because I didn’t know how many tickets they would give out,” said Richmond.

She was among the roughly 1,000 people in line, hoping to score one of just 300 COVID vaccines available for the day on a first come, first served basis. No appointments allowed.

“I was very lucky, and I’m so happy because I got my shot!” said Richmond.


Glitches in the state’s online registration system meant precious doses of the COVID vaccines were going to waste. Finally, the mayor said enough is enough.

“I feel like it’s a matter of life or death, and people can’t wait to get an appointment. So, if we make it more accessible to people, because it’s all about access, then they’ll come. And they’re coming,” said Mayor Andre Sayegh.

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Right now, people 65 and older, certain essential service workers and people with preexisting conditions are eligible for the shot.

Seniors are praising the mayor for bypassing the internet – even a man who failed to make the cut after waiting in line for a second straight day.

“Every town in the U.S. should have a much simpler version like Paterson and do a walk-in for the elderly people and immigrants who do not have internet access,” said Eugene Sugimodo, a Wycoff resident.

“Why do you think this is working so much better than the way we see it happening in big cities?” Moore asked the mayor.


“Quite frankly, we’ve been able to pivot. We did very well with contact tracing, which helped us suppress the spread. These are health care professionals that have been through this, not necessarily a pandemic. But when you’ve had an outbreak, they know how to transition,” Sayegh said.

Paterson has already vaccinated thousands of residents, but the mayor says tens of thousands more are still waiting for the supply from the state and the federal government to keep up with increasing demand.

You can check the city’s website for updated days and times when vaccines are available.

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Jessica Moore