COVID-19 VACCINE FOR STATE-ELIGIBLE PATRONS

TURNING POINT: Henry J. Austin staffer (left) administers the single dose COVID-19 shot to a TASK patron on site
at the soup kitchen’s main facility on Escher Street.

The weather was warm, the sun shining, and patrons were lined up in front of TASK for a reason different than food on Wednesday, March 11. Just a week after Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine was authorized by the FDA, more than 150 TASK patrons would get the “one-shot-wonder” protecting them against COVID-19.

“This is a good day,” shared TASK Executive Director, Joyce Campbell. “TASK is grateful to the Henry J. Austin Health Center for vaccinating our TASK family and restoring hope for those we serve.”

In the weeks leading up to the event, TASK worked with the New Jersey Department of Health to identify and pre-register patrons eligible for the vaccination under the state guidelines, including those experiencing homelessness and living in high-risk congregate settings. Though the double-dose option has been available for several months, successfully administering two rounds of the vaccination proved logistically challenging for organizations whose clients lack reliable transportation.

That the single-dose vaccination can additionally be stored in a regular refrigerator was another reason it was the more ideal option for TASK’s population.

With the support of the Henry J. Austin Health Center, the soup kitchen plans to conduct community-based vaccination clinics for state-eligible patrons at the community hub.

“I was reluctant and nervous,” TASK patron Michelle shared when her vaccination was complete. “But I decided to do it anyway. Sometimes you just have to do it anyway.”

In the days since March 11, Henry J. Austin returned to TASK to vaccinate another 120 individuals.

“I think this was a very fair process, and I appreciated that,” said TASK patron Monica after receiving her vaccine. “I feel good!”

TASK will continue to keep qualifying patrons informed about their vaccine eligibility. There are no clinics planned for the general public planned at TASK’s facility at this time.