By John Dias

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey is expanding vaccine eligibility Monday, with frontline workers in a number of categories getting their shots.

This comes as the state is preparing its largest vaccine hub to open in just a few days.

READ MORE: FEMA To Open Mass Vaccination Site In Newark Monday As New Jersey Expands COVID Vaccine Eligibility

Monday was training day at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

COVID VACCINE

Dozens of National Guard service members line up to get their COVID vaccines. It’s a trial run for those administering the shots. The National Guard members will assist the general public line up for theirs.

Watch: Gov. Phil Murphy Gives COVID Vaccine Update

“This is critically important, lifesaving, and it will help our Newark community,” said Joel Bloom, president of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Bloom says the new FEMA site will officially open to the public Wednesday. It’s one of 25 nationwide.

Newark was hit hard by the pandemic. Bloom says this will ensure vaccine equity.

“We are underrepresented in vaccine population, those who have been vaccinated to date,” he said.

The new site has the capacity to administer 6,000 doses a day, seven days a week. Vaccines come right from Washington, D.C.

One home health aide told CBS2’s John Dias that she hopes it means speeding up the process for all in New Jersey. She’s been waiting since January for her shot.

READ MORE: COVID Vaccine: New Jersey Residents 55 And Older Eligible Starting April 5

“I registered and it’s not my turn yet,” said Fatima Balogun. “It’s going to be a good thing, and I’m sure a lot of people will want to take it.”

This comes as New Jersey expanded its eligibility for the vaccine Monday to a large number of new frontline essential workers, including food production workers, eldercare and support staff, as well as hospitality, postal and shipping staff, those who work in elections and in the judicial system.

“It feels good. So we can open up sooner, and start living our life like we used to,” said EMT Dawn Patterson.

Gov. Phil Murphy is insisting that soon the doors to vaccine sites will swing wide open to most.

“We can set May 1 as our target date for opening eligibility for everyone in the state of New Jersey age 16 and older who lives, works or studies in this state,” Murphy said. “We want everyone to have a date they can look forward to, and I know everyone is anxious to get their shot.”

As of Friday, Murphy says almost 1.4 million New Jersey residents have been fully vaccinated.

Murphy says the state will receive a 20% increase in doses from the federal government sometime this week.

“Will allow us to get even more shots into arms,” he said.

This comes as COVID cases tick back up in New Jersey, signaling a possible third wave. Experts say mostly because of new variants, pandemic fatigue and travel.

“Sign up and get a vaccine. It’s how we get through this crisis together,” said State Sen. Joe Cryan.

MORE NEWS: COVID In New Jersey: With Hospitalizations On The Rise, Third Wave Fears Are Growing Among Medical Experts

 

John Dias