Secaucus vaccinates the homeless and other under-served communities

Riverside Medical Group has partnered with homeless shelters

Jesse Aubrey, right, a client of Eva's Village, prepares to be vaccinated in Secacus on Feb. 28.
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Jesse Aubrey, right, a client of Eva's Village, prepares to be vaccinated in Secacus on Feb. 28.

Riverside Medical Group, in Secaucus, has launched a community partnership aimed at expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine for New Jersey’s underserved populations. Riverside has teamed up with shelters, including the nonprofit Eva’s Village in Paterson, Covenant House New Jersey, and Helping the Homeless in Newark to bring COVID-19 vaccines to the homeless.

“The inequities that we’re seeing in vaccination administration is a problem, and we want to be part of the solution,” said Dr. Zeyad Baker, CEO of Riverside Medical Group. “Riverside has strong roots in our community and deeply-ingrained values of providing access to care when and where people need it. That’s why we’re proud to leverage our relationships with Eva’s Village and Helping the Homeless to bring vaccinations to the communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access.”

Riverside made the announcement while vaccinating staff and members of Covenant House New Jersey at Riverside’s Secaucus headquarters on Feb. 28.

“Throughout the pandemic as the world shut down, Covenant House New Jersey continued to serve homeless youth with food and shelter and many other services in the safest manner that we could,” said Wayne Paglieri, Senior Development Director, Covenant House NJ. “The opportunity to vaccinate our members through Riverside gets us a lot closer to getting back to normal; we know that our community has had challenges in getting access to the vaccine, but getting these vaccines will put our homeless youth on a faster path to transition out of our shelter to successful independent living.”

Riverside plans to help homeless residents register to get vaccinated at cooperating homeless shelters. It will also transport those in need of a ride.

Homeless and at-risk

According to federal data, New Jersey is home to nearly 9,000 homeless people, a figure that has increased during the pandemic. According to the NJ Department of Health, living in a homeless shelter increases the risk for contracting COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination rates highlight health disparities. According to a recent analysis of the state, the vaccination rate is 28 percent higher in the wealthiest counties compared to less affluent ones.

Underserved populations are disproportionately communities of color. Of all COVID-19 vaccines administered in the state, just 3 percent have been administered to African-Americans and only 5 percent to Hispanic and or Latino residents, according to the DOH. Since the virus affects communities of color at a higher rate, the need to vaccinate these underserved populations is vital.

“I am greatly appreciative to Riverside Medical Group for their efforts to vaccinate underserved communities,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “It is critical to ensure equity in our statewide vaccination effort, and I commend Riverside Medical Group, Eva’s Village, and their many staff for their selfless work. This partnership will undoubtedly help those most in need and expand vaccine access to people that have been some of the most devastated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Riverside has also partnered with Eden Autism Services in Princeton, which supports individuals lwith autism of all ages, to help administer the vaccine to those eligible.

For more information, go to www.riversidemedgroup.com.

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