By Howard Monroe

BLACKWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — Camden County has opened a new COVID-19 vaccination site for first responders and other eligible workers.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for months now. I couldn’t wait to be here,” said Caryelle Lasher, who received the vaccine.

The 10-month-long wait is over for some in New Jersey. Lasher works for the Department of Health and was one of the first to get the vaccine at Camden County’s vaccination center at Camden County College-Blackwood. The center opened for the first time Wednesday morning.

“This is so critical in getting through this pandemic,” Lasher said.

As of now, New Jersey is still only allowing group 1-A to be vaccinated, which includes health care workers and those working and living in long-term health facilities.

Gov. Phil Murphy is also allowing first responders and those over 65 to be vaccinated. When they are fully operational, they’ll be able to vaccinate over 500 people a day.

“This is a historic day here in Camden County. The beginning of this process because it is the beginning, we hope, of the end of this virus,” Camden County Commissioner Director Lou Cappelli Jr. said.

And while the vaccine is here and distribution is just in the beginning stages, the next step is to make sure people feel safe getting the shot in the arm.

Virginia Matias, a Camden County Sheriff’s officer, says she hears cynics, especially from those in minority communities, but says her shot in the arm was worth it.

“A lot of people are just skeptical because it’s a new vaccine. They feel as though there’s probably not enough research or it was rushed but I just want to be an example,” Matias said.

It’s an uphill battle health professionals know they’ll have to overcome.

“I know we’re never going to get to 100% because we never do, but the closer we get to that 100, the better,” Camden County Commissioner Carmen Rodriguez said.

Only people who live or work in Camden County can get the vaccine at Camden County College. Registration is required. Click here for more information.


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