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Why were teachers not higher up on the Covid Vaccine list in New Jersey? What science is Governor Phil Murphy using to determine dates and vaccine qualifications? Where does Monmouth County, Jersey Shore go from here to boost business?

On the 6th Episode of 'Eyes On The Jersey Shore', I spoke with Monmouth County State Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) who discussed these issues and more.

In regards to teachers being left off the priority list from Governor Murphy and his administration, it's puzzling to many including Senator Gopal who says more broadly, including teachers and others, he would have approached the vaccine qualifiers list a much different way.

"When we look at the vaccination system, it's basically a free for all, you have folks at home going website to website trying to get an appointment against their neighbors...this wasn't the best way," Gopal tells Townsquare Media Jersey Shore News. "We know teachers have to get vaccinated, they should have been included, that's how we're going to get our schools open and it plays a big role in getting our economy open. I think we also need to focus on seniors and those who are the most vulnerable because their immune systems are the weakest right now. We also need to focus on those who are working full-time jobs."

People who smoke are among those on the list of qualifiers ahead of teachers, and it's raised more than a few eyebrows.

Gopal said someone who even just started smoking a week ago, should not be on the vaccine list ahead of teachers or senior citizens and those most vulnerable.

"It doesn't make sense," Gopal said. "I would love to get a vaccine tomorrow, if I was eligible so I can go out and do things but in good conscience, and I hope the marjority of New Jerseyans feel the same way, is that we wait our turn until it's appropriate to get the vaccine and every vulnerable member of our community...gets it first because we have so few doses."

The lack of information and transparency coming from the Governor's office has put significant delays on planning and reopening for lawmakers, residents and businesses and Gopal says we need a more strategic approach and transparency.

"I've been asking for that since Day One, it's very frustrating and I've urged the Governor's Office and Department of Health to put a date out, put a timeline out saying 'alright, this is when we're going to 50-percent or 75-percent' and you have the right to pull back if you see cases are going the other way. I think everyone is fine with that, any rational, average human being would understand that," Gopal said.

As we head towards the spring and summer seasons, which are huge for the Jersey Shore, planning and communication needs to be ramped up yesterday to have a successful and healthy summer of 2021.

Restaurants and businesses up and down the Jersey Shore have pulled out all the stops and tricks and ideas to stay open and keep things going and that will help them again this year too.

"Many of these towns have been really creative like Red Bank and Asbury Park along Brighton Avenue in Long Branch and a lot of these places have been super creative in creating these outdoor pedestrian walkways and have really brought people together and done it in a very safe way," Gopal said. "It would also be great to see some specific regulations that would come out based on the number of people to get vaccinated, based on the number of hospitalizations, based on transmission, based on the Covid rate...I would love to see from the front office (Governor's Office) what does the next six-months look like if we hit these benchmarks."

You can hear more from Senator Vin Gopal here on these issues and more....

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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