On Thursday, a big, blue Rapid Mobile Response van wheeled into Irvington Park in Essex County. The van is one of the “triplets,” three public health vans being deployed by New Jersey’s Department of Health to bring COVID-19 vaccines into communities. Canvassers fanned out across the lawns to promote this latest COVID-19 pop-up vaccination site. But this one was different; it was organized by a newly-appointed county COVID ambassador tasked with convincing the many vaccine holdouts in Essex County to roll up their sleeves for a shot.
Staff drew up syringes as canvassers tried to persuade members of a population that deeply distrusts the government. Fewer than half of Irvington’s adults have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Can the ambassador, and the big, blue triplet, move that needle?