Santos pleads for town residents to get COVID-19 vaccine

Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos wants all Kearny residents to get the free COVID-19 vaccine. Observer file photo

Using his bully pulpit, Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos exhorted town residents who remain unvaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to take action and get the jab.

And, Santos noted, the remedy is near at hand.

All they need do, he said, is go to the town Health Department, 645 Kearny Ave., to get the shots.

The Health Department is vaccinating people on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and on the first Saturday of the month, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

No advance registration is required and there is no cost to the public for the shots, he said.

Santos said the Health Department has available all three vaccines approved for use in the U.S. — Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen.

Santos said booster vaccine shots of the Pfizer-BioNJTech COVID-19 vaccine have been recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for those found to be “immuno-compromised” and for those age 65 and older. The CDC advises taking the booster at least six months after having received the primary Pfizer vaccine.

Further guidance is offered on the CDC website.

As of last week, Santos said, Kearny was reporting a rate of 5.96 cases per day every seven days or about 42 new cases per week. “We’ve been at this level for the past couple of weeks,” he added.

Residents with questions about the vaccination process are encouraged to call the Health Department at (201) 997-0600 Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and ask for Nelly Albizu at ext. 3500 or Fran Olenik at ext. 3505.

Or, for general questions, 24/7 about COVID-19, the New Jersey Department of Health is operating a public hotline at (800) 962-1253 or (800) 222-1222 or visit

Those with concerns about COVID-19 and resources available to them are invited to call 2-1-1, New Jersey’s statewide information and referral service operated by United Way of New Jersey. Or, text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information. To receive live text assistance, residents can text their zip code to 898-211.

In other business taken up by the mayor and Town Council:

  • The town will conduct the annual lottery for overnight off-street resident parking spaces Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. in Town Hall. Town Clerk Pat Carpenter said the 14 overnight parking spots being made available at 60 Passaic Ave. would be assigned from the overflow expected at the former police sub-station site on Grant Avenue.
  • The town’s annual Halloween Parade – postponed last year due to the pandemic – will be staged next month at a date and time expected to be announced at the next council session, Santos said. “We believe we can safely hold the parade this year,” he said.
  • Harvey Field off Schuyler Avenue and Rodgers Playground off Belgrove Drive will remain closed indefinitely pending restoration of surfaces at both sites, according to Michael Neglia, the town’s consulting engineer.

Neglia said Hurricane Ida caused the front turf section to be “rippled and filled with debris. I’m recommending we replace the entire surface under a state contract.” The job should be completed by March, he estimated. “For the back section,” Neglia said, “we’re struggling to clean debris off the grass.”

Santos added: “The challenge is how to clean the field without breaking the surface.” Meanwhile, Town Recreation Director Ralph Cattafi said he’s found alternate sites for teams to play or practice during the field’s closure.

As for Rogers Playground, Neglia said he’s recommending replacing the tiled surface “in its entirety.” He didn’t say how long that job would take to complete.

  • First Ward Councilman Albino Cardoso reported receiving flooding complaints from residents in the area of Windsor Street and Bergen Avenue. “The problems have persisted for quite some time,” he said. Town DPW Superintendent David Hayes responded that local sewer inlets “were televised in July – we went in several hundred feet and everything was very clear.” Nonetheless, Santos said, the situation “does appear to have gotten worse. Maybe the water is coming from another inlet upstream.”
  • The governing body authorized the donation of 15 town Recreation Youth football helmets no longer needed to Lodi’s youth rec program. Cattafi said the helmets “are only good for 10 years” and these 15 helmets’ “will no longer be of use to us after next year.” He said Lodi was unable to secure helmets from private vendors.
  • The Kearny Fire Department will be distributing free fire detectors to residents on Oct. 9, the last day of Fire Prevention Week. More details will be provided later.

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Ron Leir | For The Observer

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.

He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.

He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York