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'Lease on life for us:' New vaccine program for Holocaust survivors

Norman Frajman, 90, Holocaust survivor, shares COVID vaccine experience thanks to Gov. DeSantis' new program (WPEC)

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth announced Thursday a special program to administer COVID-19 vaccines for Holocaust survivors in Palm Beach County.

“Holocaust survivors are treasures and we need to make sure they receive vaccinations,’’ he said. “I am truly grateful to the governor, Jared Moskowitz, Director, and Jared Rosenstein, Legislative Affairs Director, both with the Florida Division of Emergency Management for making this happen."

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Weinroth’s project is part of a statewide program to make sure Holocaust survivors have immediate access to the vaccine, according to a news release. He reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis' office last week for assistance with the program.

Norman Frajman of Boynton Beach said getting the vaccine in the comfort of his own home was a godsend.

"They came in, a whole group of firefighters, they did the job, injected," he said. "They left two people here to sit with us, to see if we have any reaction."

The 91-year-old said the vaccine gives him the strength to educate students online about his story of survival.

"If I don’t share what I went through, it’s going to be a forgotten issue," Frajman said while holding the uniform he wore while in a concentration camp as a ten-year-old. "Giving us the injection, it’s a lease on life for us.”

Delray Beach resident and survivor Menachem Warshawski is the sole survivor of his family after he was sent to Auschwitz at 14, and ironically, it's thanks to the number etched in blue ink on his arm.

"They exchanged my number with somebody who, [excuse me], with somebody who died that day," he said.

In this case, he said, now he won't be seen as just a number on the long list of seniors trying to make a vaccination appointment.

"I have a granddaughter, I would like to see grow up. She is eight years old," Warshawski said. "It’s a very nice gesture."

“We owe these Holocaust survivors for serving as inspiration to so many people,’’ Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Thursday at Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura. “We are thankful for what they mean to this country and how they remind us to never forget.’’

The state announced there are 750 Holocaust survivors and spouses living in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. The same number of doses will go to Holocaust survivors who are homebound seniors.

They're asked to call the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in Dania Beach at 954-929-5690, ext. 302.