Meet the residents of NJ who won dinner with Governor Murphy in the vaccination lottery
Beth Saunderlin said she and her family already felt lucky to have been able to get the then coveted coronavirus vaccine months ago.
“We thought winning the lottery was getting the shot,” the 66-year-old retired kindergarten teacher from South Jersey told NJ Advance Media.
But that’s not all she won.
The Sauderlins were winners of the state competition for a private dinner with Gov. Phil murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy – one of the incentives officials unveiled in May to continue increasing New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination rate. Any New Jersey resident aged 18 and over who had been vaccinated was eligible.
Saunderlin, who lives with her family in Alloway, Salem County, stressed that she was not a “political person” and did not want to discuss her support for Murphy or any particular party.
“I don’t want to get into the politics of it,” she said.
She noted that it was her 23-year-old son Gareth who suggested the family enter the contest.
“I was so happy to get the vaccine without any gimmicks,” Saunderlin said. “I said, ‘It’s fine if you want to do this’, never dreaming that this would happen.”
Saunderlin was joined by her husband Bill and Gareth, of course, for dinner Monday night at Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion in Princeton. She said they had dinner with Murphys on Jersey tomato salad, Jersey scallops and deconstructed cheesecake and chatted about their lives and travels.
“The whole evening has been delicious,” Saunderlin said. “I’ll be entertaining them at my house in a minute.”
“The goal was to get vaccinated,” she added. “It was a lovely and charming bonus.”
Murphy tweeted Tuesday that he had a “wonderful time” at dinner.
There have been more than 26,000 deaths from COVID-19 in New Jersey, the most per capita among US states. But it also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with more than 5.18 people who live, work or study here fully immunized – although the rate has slowed in recent months.
The state has seen its COVID-19 numbers drop dramatically in recent months, although daily cases are rising again as the delta variant spreads. Authorities are calling on more people to get vaccinated to help stop the spread.
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