Hopewell Township Mayor Julie Blake.

Many of you are aware that our health care workers have worked heroically during the past year, but I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their efforts and those of others who put themselves at risk by going to work each day and providing us with care.

The generosity and commitment they have shown through the pandemic and now during the vaccination process has been life-changing. I see heroes everywhere.

On Feb. 4, 5 and 6, the Hopewell Valley health care team vaccinated close to 900 individuals from Phase 1A and 1B Priority Groups in Hopewell Valley and Mercer County. Among many others, the team included the Hopewell Township and Montgomery health departments, the Hopewell Township Police Department, Hopewell Valley Regional Schools, first responders from the volunteer departments in Hopewell Valley, volunteers from the Mercer County Medical Reserve Corps, and student nurses from Mercer County Community College.

The success of the three-day vaccine clinic at Hopewell Elementary School was due to the enthusiastic efforts of our staff and volunteers. As I spoke to individuals waiting in line, I heard story after story about the helpfulness of the people who called them and assisted them in getting to the vaccine site.

I had not met many of the people who were singled out for their kindness, but please know that if you were part of this undertaking, you were deeply appreciated by every person who was vaccinated.

I cannot acknowledge everyone by name, but I would like to recognize the calmness, professionalism, and know-how of Dawn Marling, Randi Knechel and Jessalyn Waldron of the Hopewell Health and Senior Services Departments as well as Stephanie Carey, Devangi Patel, Katie Williams and their teams at the Montgomery Township Health Department. Our local businesses jumped in and helped (thank you Pennington Bagel and PQM!) to feed the health care workers. Dr. Thomas Smith and the team from Hopewell Valley Regional Schools (especially the janitorial staff) did everything possible to support this effort.

The demand for vaccines is obviously very high, and we share our residents’ frustration with the limited supplies currently available. If you would like to get the vaccine, please make sure you register at covidvaccine.nj.gov and call (855) 568-0545 if you need help registering. If you are currently eligible, keep checking the Hopewell Township Senior Services page for additional options. Please avoid calling or emailing the Health Department directly while they are working through a long waiting list.

We will continue advocating for more local clinics, and I encourage everyone to reach out to elderly and vulnerable friends and neighbors to see if they need help registering. It will take all of us working together to get our community vaccinated.

Please also watch for signs of depression in yourself and others in the community. Many of us have lost loved ones, jobs, and more. Covid is not just killing people through disease: it is devastating lives through feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you or some you know is at risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit speakingofsuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

New Jersey is getting more doses every week and our health departments are working hard to protect us. The situation is very fluid, and the systems that we currently have in place may very well change by the time this article is posted. As of mid-February, however, Mercer County and the Department of Health are working to make more vaccines available to each municipality. Please check the Hopewell Township website for Valley-wide updates.

Be well and stay safe.

Julie Blake is the mayor of Hopewell Township. This content was provided by Hopewell Township