NEW JERSEY — Two New Jersey mayors are going head-to-head in an effort to get more shots into arms.
It’s all part of the ongoing vaccination campaign in the Garden State that has already propelled it as one of the nation’s leaders in the fight against COVID-19.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh is squaring off with Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora in what the state is calling the “Mayors Vaccine Challenge.”
It’s just the latest initiative that aims to boost the state’s vaccination numbers.
The objective of the challenge is to get as many members of their communities vaccinated by the end of the year.
The city that loses will have to feed first responders in the winning city and the menu will be based on the very best of what each city has to offer.
Both cities are already well on their way.
About 73% of residents in Trenton have received at least one shot of the COVID vaccine while those in the 12 through 17 age group have a vaccination rate at 69%.
Overall, 58% of the city is fully vaccinated.
In Paterson, the numbers are just as impressive where 73% of those eligible have received at least one dose and 86% of the 12 to 17 age group are vaccinated.
Paterson and Trenton are not the only cities in the Garden State boasting impressive numbers.
Vaccination rates about 70% is a trend officials are seeing in a number of municipalities which were initially areas of concern.
Jersey City, North Bergen, Edison, Cherry Hill and Elizabeth all hit about the 70% vaccination mark.
In Newark, the state’s largest city, over 62% of those eligible have received at least one shot, with 52% now fully vaccinated.
Despite the encouraging outlook, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli admits there are a few pockets of concern.
“We are focused on Ocean, Cumberland and Salem right now. They are at around 68, 69%. We’d like to see them get up,” she said.
New Jersey currently ranks sixth overall on vaccination.
Despite meeting their initial vaccination goals, state officials are showing no signs of slowing down.