First responders in Newark have started to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, officials confirmed.
Eleven Newark Police Department officers were vaccinated Dec. 29, and more are scheduled to receive their shots this week, City Manager Tom Coleman wrote in a Dec. 31 memo to city council.
“We expect that all officers who want a vaccine will have an opportunity to be vaccinated within the next two weeks or so,” Coleman said.
The next group of city workers to be vaccinated will be the 911 dispatchers, Coleman added. By late February or early March, the vaccine will be offered to civilian employees who can’t work from home, such as public works crews, electric crews and building inspectors.
“Widespread vaccine availability looks to be around May or June, which aligns with the assumptions we included in our revenue forecast used to develop the 2021 budget, which is good to see,” Coleman said.
Since the pandemic began, 21 city employees have tested positive for COVID-19, including four last week. City hall remains closed to the public, and most office workers are working from home. Frontline employees alternate days working to limit potential exposure.
Deputy Chief Jeff Sands, a spokesman for Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company, said the department’s emergency medical technicians are being vaccinated now, and, according to state guidelines, firefighters will be eligible in the next round of vaccines.
“While we cannot mandate the vaccine, we are certainly encouraging our members and providing as many opportunities as possible for those who wish to be vaccinated,” Sands said. “We are grateful for the work being done by the Division of Public Health to provide first responder vaccinations.”
He added that because many Aetna employees and volunteers work for multiple agencies, the department does not have an accurate count of how many EMTs have been vaccinated so far.