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COVID Vaccine Mega Site Opens In Passaic County

WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A new COVID vaccine mega site opened Saturday in Passaic County, New Jersey.

The National Guard, state police, the department of health and St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center collaborated to give residents a faster option to get their vaccines or booster shots.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia Ascenzo, of Wanaque, was among the first in line at the new site, located in what used to be a Macy's department store at the Preakness Shopping Center on Hamburg Turnpike in Wayne.

She tells CBS2's Dave Carlin she contracted what she calls a moderate case of COVID before vaccines were recommended for teens. When that changed, she asked her parents if she could get vaccinated.

Kids 12 and older can also now get the booster.


"I think it's very important with school. There's a mask mandate, but a lot of kids aren't wearing the masks, so we just feel like it would be safer to get it," Joe Ascenzo said.

"And I thought I should just get the vaccine just to, like, maybe if I ever got it again, to be on the safe side," Sophia said.

She got her booster Saturday, sticking with Pfizer.

The site also offers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

"This site is offering all three vaccines and the booster doses in the right doses for them," St. Joseph's Health clinical education director Stephanie Herr said.

The site is for New Jersey residents only with enough supply to vaccinate 1,000 people a day. It's set to remain open for at least the next six months.

The mega site is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The site will operate from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Appointments, which can be made on Passaic County's website, are recommended but not required.

"With the lines, this is a 30-minute process. They come in to register, it takes them 10 minutes, and 15 minutes for the monitoring. The vaccine in between is five minutes, so you're in and out. Plenty of parking. It's an easy process," Herr said.


The mega site opens one day after the findings of several studies were released.

Leaders at the Centers for Disease Control say three separate scientific findings help them make their case for vaccines, saying they help in the fight against the highly infectious Omicron variant.

The agency says people who receive their booster shots tend to be even better protected against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

Nationwide, the average number of new cases is down 9% from this time last week.

"Areas of the Northeast -- New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut -- are really starting to come down," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

But federal health officials say more than 2,000 Americans are dying of COVID every day and urge everyone to keep up with mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing.

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