EDISON — Governor Phil Murphy toured Edison’s New Jersey Convention and Expo Center’s mega vaccine facility on Friday and spoke to a few of the first vaccine recipients.

Murphy posed for a photo with Richard Satyavan, a 76-year-old North Brunswick resident, recipient of the first shot and the crowd began cheering.

Somerset resident Vaikalathur Mani shared that he is at high risk of contracting COVID-19 because he has diabetes and high blood pressure.

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Officials want to administer up to 2,000 vaccines per day at the Raritan Center building. Murphy stated that 300,000 vaccines have already been given in New Jersey as of January 14th.

Other officials attending the vaccination site’s opening day included New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Middlesex County Board of Commissioners Director Ron Rios, Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak, Senator Sam Thompson and Edison Mayor Tom Lankey.

 “This is a huge thing for Middlesex County and the region. It’s really going to help us in our efforts to eradicate this virus,” Rios said.

He continued, “It’s scary, and I just wish people would take this more seriously and wear the mask and wash your hands and social distance and avoid going out.”

The Edison facility is one of six mega-sites statewide. The others are in Bergen, Morris, Gloucester, Burlington and Atlantic counties. RWJBarnabas is collaborating with Middlesex County in the effort to vaccinate as many people as they can as soon as possible.

Murphy was asked why the current vaccination guidelines make smokers eligible for vaccinations before teachers and people employed in the transportation industry.

The governor replied that he wanted everyone to receive vaccinates as quickly as possible and explained that the CDC publishes the guidelines and he has no input. He added, “I hope sooner than later teachers are on the on-deck circle.”

Murphy also noted, “We’re trying to save the most vulnerable first.” New Jersey residents dying from COVID-19 are mostly seniors and people who suffer from chronic health conditions.

The CDC’s Phases are progressing. Phase1A saw the health care workers with direct or indirect exposure to infectious materials and staff of long-term congregate setting receive vaccinations. Phase 1B focused on vaccinating frontline essential workers and other high-risk groups.

Phase 1C is underway and vaccinations are currently being administered to individuals ages 65 years and older and those between the ages of 16-64 with medical conditions that the CDC has determined to increase the risk of catching COVID and suffering from serious effects of the virus.

Phase 2, the general population, is next. President-elect Joe Biden’s administration plans to release almost all the vaccine that was being held for second doses, is meant to speed up the vaccination process by ensuring vaccination locations are stocked.

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