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PATERSON, NJ — It’s a city that, in the past, has been near the top on lists for poverty rates and crime statistics. However, on Thursday, Paterson ascended to the highest levels of a very different, and much more healthy, list: COVID-19 vaccinations.

Mayor André Sayegh pointed out how significant the achievement is.

“We have a city of black and brown people, and we’re at 90%,” he said about the vaccination rate in the Passaic County city. “And they said it couldn’t be done.”

Of course a mayor in charge of the vaccination program is going to tout the city’s accomplishment. however, he was by no means the only one singing the praises of the city’s efforts.

Alicia Coleman is a lifelong resident, who PIX11 News encountered in a random survey of local residents.

“Paterson, New Jersey, we’re doing our thing.  We’re vaccinated,” she said, “because it’s dangerous out here. You’ve got to be vaccinated.”

She was among a variety of people on Paterson streets who were encountered randomly, and were vaccinated and proud. 

Vivian Nazmy said that her vaccination was part of a larger effort to protect all residents.  

“We must take it to avoid Corona,” she said.

Michael Lewis echoed her message.  

“Everybody should get vaccinated. I got vaccinated,” he said.  

Because so many people live in the city — at 146,000, it’s the state’s third largest — its vaccination statistics improve rates statewide.  

New Jersey is in the national Top 10, with 74% of the state’s population vaccinated. Helping to lead that charge is Paterson’s 90%.

It’s also bucking another trend. Lower income communities nationwide tend to have some of the lowest vaccination rates. Paterson is the fifth poorest city in the state, but it’s one of the most highly vaccinated.  
That doesn’t mean that its work is done, not by any means.

A few residents were adamant against COVID-19 vaccines.  

“The vaccination’s crazy, to tell you the truth,” one resident who declined to give his name said.

A woman who wanted to go only by her first name, Kim, felt even more strongly against vaccines.

“Absolutely not,” she said, in response to a question about her vaccination status.  “I’m not vaccinated, and I will never get vaccinated,” she said.

Mayor Sayegh said that reactions like theirs were reminders that the city still has work to do.

“We do outreach,” he said, adding that he has deployed a mobile vaccination unit to the downtown area where the two unvaccinated people were that PIX11 News encountered.  “I might be out there, or our public officer we’ll be out there and we’ll just grab somebody out there and ask them, ‘Are you vaccinated?’, and persuade them to do so.”