First two of six planned vaccine 'mega-sites' open in New Jersey

Jay Alderton, a career firefighter and EMT, raised his sleeve on Friday morning to get vaccinated in Morris County.

"Thank you Governor Murphy for bringing this vaccine to not only first responders, but hopefully in the near future, to every New Jersey resident," he said after getting the shot.

Alderton was one of roughly one-hundred people to be vaccinated at a vacant Sears department store at the Rockaway Town Square Mall, which has since transformed into one of six COVID-19 vaccine mega-sites.

The 30,000 square foot space has the capacity to handle 2,400 vaccinations a day.

Initially, this site will be allocated 1,000 doses of vaccine. We want it to be more, but we need more vaccine availability," Judy Persichilli, the New Jersey Health Commissioner added.

Vaccines are administered in a phased approach, and are now available to those in Phase 1B, beginning with police officers and firefighters.

The expansion comes as the state reported a single-day record of 6,314 new confirmed COVID-19 tests.

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"Our decision to open up the line for our police and fire personnel was simple. They have similarly put themselves in harm’s way for more than 10 months," Governor Murphy said during his remarks on-site.

Two-hundred other vaccination sites are currently operating from North Jersey down to Cape May, including another one at a West Orange shopping center in Essex County.

People who got vaccinated there told Fox 5 the process was quick and easy, and said they felt it was important to get the shots to protect themselves and others.

As the state slowly makes progress with its vaccine rollout, schools are still airing on the side of caution.

Newark and Jersey City public schools have both extended remote learning through April, and have promised to keep district members informed with any updates.