Holy Name Medical Center has announced plans to expand its COVID-19 vaccination program to include a new location in West New York at the Memorial High School gymnasium, at Broadway and 55th Street. The site will begin administering Pfizer vaccines to residents with appointments on April 4.
A cry for help
The town first began distributing the Moderna vaccine to eligible residents in late December. However, this is the first distribution site to be opened by WNY itself, in conjunction with Holy Name.
The site at the high school was ready to go at the beginning of March, according to a video address by Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez. But the town lacked the vaccines to open it. Rodriguez publicly pleaded for more doses, asserting that less than three percent of eligible residents had been vaccinated.
The town estimates that about 2.2 to 2.7 percent of its population has been vaccinated. The data does not account for individuals who may have been vaccinated at a state mega-site or other entity.
“Our community has worked tirelessly against this pandemic, fighting for a healthier and safer new normal,” Rodriguez said. “Access to vaccines is paramount to achieving that. This much needed and appreciated collaboration with Holy Name Hospital will provide a safe and efficient vaccine site in the heart of this community. As we move forward, we thank Holy Name for helping us move one step closer to beating this virus because this community deserves it.”
3,000 shots per day
With adequate access to supply, Holy Name officials anticipate administering 3,000 doses daily, seven days a week beginning Friday, April 2.
“For three months, Holy Name has operated one of the largest, most efficient vaccine centers in the country at Teaneck’s Richard Rodda Center where our pharmacists and nurses have, so far, administered 75,000 doses,” said Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. “The huge success of that effort, paired with the massive need for a greater number of convenient, well-organized vaccine centers, led us to answer West New York Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez’s call to create a similar experience for our neighbors in Hudson County.”
West New York is home to nearly 60,000 residents, making it one of the most densely populated municipalities in the nation. When the pandemic unfolded, it also became one of New Jersey’s hardest hit towns, with a death rate from COVID that is higher than the state’s.
As of March 1, the COVID-19 death rate for the town was 35.82 deaths per 10,000 residents versus 22.87 for the state. Over 10 percent of the population has been infected by the virus, with 6,767 total cases and 202 deaths as of March 26.
“We have seen how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color and we remain committed to ensuring that all New Jersey residents receive fair and equal access to the vaccine,” said Dr. Gilberto Gastell, internal medicine specialist at Holy Name. The hospital, while located in Teaneck, also has a facility in WNY.
“West New York is also where I practice, and this community desperately wants to be protected against this devastating virus,” Gastell said. “I, along with my colleagues, doctors Jorge Verea, Mauricio Velasco, Jonathan Dominguez, Mario Pelletier, and Sel Levine, are humbled and honored to be a part of this effort.”
For information and resources regarding COVID-19 testing and treatment, visit HolyName.org.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.