Union County vaccinates first resident against COVID-19

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UNION COUNTY, NJ — The first Union County resident to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was Carolyn Smith of Union, a nurse practitioner at Kean University, marking the start of Phase 1A vaccinations, the Board of County Commissioners announced on Thursday, Jan. 7.

The vaccination occurred at the county’s facility at Kean University at approximately 3 p.m. — the start of the first day of operations. Smith, who has more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and is a registered nurse in the states of New Jersey and New York, said, “I did it because I believe it is important to prevent the spread of the pandemic, to save lives and protect my family, myself, my patients and the community. After reviewing information and the science about the pandemic, I believe this is the best thing to do. We must work to stop COVID-19, and vaccination is one of the ways.”

Smith received her shot from Julie Wischusen of Cranford, a registered nurse who has been a front-line volunteer at Union County’s drive-through COVID-19 test center at Kean University since it opened in March. Wischusen’s husband, New York Jets announcer Bob Wischusen, created the “Let’s Feed Our Heroes” fundraising drive to purchase food for local hospital workers.

Union County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Alexander Mirabella said, “The Board of Commissioners commends Ms. Smith for setting the example and taking the first vaccination. We are pleased to open the vaccination clinic and begin offering life-saving vaccines to those who qualify during the current phase. As more supplies become available, we will announce locations and procedures in accordance with state guidance, and we urge all residents to get vaccinated. We have all been depending on each other to stay safe during this pandemic, and each one of us has the power to make a difference in our community.”

County Commissioner Sergio Granados, who is chairperson of the county’s Public Safety/Homeland Security Committee, said, “Today, Union County has taken a major step forward in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with the kickoff of our vaccination program. Our program began with more than 300 vaccinations being provided today alone to those in the 1A category, including Ms. Smith, a nurse practitioner at Kean. Our Union County Board of Commissioners will continue to expand the vaccination program to residents as we work with the state of New Jersey, which will guide us through each vaccination phase category.”

Union County has begun Phase 1A vaccinations at Kean University. Health care personnel and others who are eligible to receive the vaccine, as defined by the New Jersey Department of Health, must make an appointment through the county’s website. For more information about who qualifies under phase 1A or to make an appointment, visit http://www.ucnj.org/vaccination.​ The county is offering the Moderna vaccine.

Photos Courtesy of David Pilmenstein, Union County