The impact of the slow COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in Scotch Plains and Union County


Joe Kaplan, Staff Writer

100 million shots, in the first 100 days in office. This was President Joe Biden’s guarantee towards the American people as he continues the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine amongst the public. No one said it was easy, but its impact on the American people matters now more than ever. 

Over time, the vaccine rollout has been criticized for its slow movement. Many health officials are mentioning how the distribution should be increasing as the days go by. What’s upsetting is that many see no increase, just a straight line on a graph, with each passing day. Much of the public is still very concerned about when they will start to see an increase in distributions. As for now, the public must make sure those who are at most risk, must be taken care of.

Locally, Union County is currently receiving around 1,500 vaccines a week from the State of New Jersey through the Federal Government. With a population of around 530,000 people, most understand that this is not nearly enough. 

According to the Union County Vaccine Board, optimism is the only way to promote an increase.

“We are cautiously optimistic this number [1,500] will increase as President Biden has promised to increase the number of vaccines over his first 100 days,” a representative at the Union County Vaccine Board said. “But that all comes through the Federal Government.”

Companies like Johnson and Johnson are starting to see an increase in vaccine supply. Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke about his own thoughts on the TODAY show on Feb 25th, 2021. 

“To have [Johnson and Johnson] come in and be in the mix with [Pfizer and Moderna] is nothing but good news,” Fauci said. “When the vaccine becomes available, take it.”

Fauci believes it is unnecessary to wait for potentially more effective vaccines to become available, and mentions how if any one of the three vaccines are available in your area, there should be no hesitation to take it.  

It is too soon to say as to what will happen when high schoolers and teens start to become eligible for the vaccine. Union County has not been given any notice of when they will be able to receive more vaccines. 

Another topic that could annoy or frustrate many individuals when talking about the vaccine is the idea that many teachers still have not received the vaccine.  Many agree that teachers should be eligible to receive the vaccine as they continue to meet with in-person students daily. The main problem is that the eligibility of vaccines for teachers differs from state-to-state. 

Adric Quackenbush, Scotch Plains – Fanwood High School Physics teacher, mentioned his thoughts on the vaccine rollout and his opinion on the dilemma surrounding vaccinating teachers. 

I think the vaccine rollout has a lot to be desired,” Quackenbush said. “I have heard that NJ sites (and others) are well oiled machines, but are working with only hundreds or thousands of doses for the day. I would not say I am angry [that many teachers aren’t receiving the vaccine] but society continues to devalue educators. It is evident again and again that society would rather keep bars and restaurants open rather than schools.”

SPFHS Nurse Lisa McNally also took part in mentioning key ways in how the COVID-19 vaccine could be beneficial to the community.

“I would encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they become eligible,” McNally said. “The goal of vaccination is to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community. While the exact percentage is unknown, experts generally feel that at a minimum, we need to vaccinate 60-70% of the population to reach herd immunity. It is important to follow CDC recommendations to keep yourself and others safe from illness.”

Nurse McNally is constantly reminding the community to do the following, before or after receiving the vaccine:

“Wear a two layer or more mask that covers your mouth and nose, maintain social distancing of six feet or more, wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer and stay home and isolate yourself from others when you are not feeling well,” McNally said. 

Although at a slow pace, the COVID-19 Vaccine will eventually reach Union County at an increasing rate. While it is not mandatory to acquire the vaccine, everyone must still be considerate towards the public when it comes to exposure. However, this vaccine has been wanted since March 2020, and now that we could have the opportunity to possess it, it is one accomplishment that our country should be very proud of.