Ocean County officials announced their initial plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines to some qualified recipients as 292 new cases were reported Monday.
The Ocean County Health Department will receive 1,500 doses of Moderna’s vaccine which will be distributed to healthcare workers at the RWJ Barnabas Health Arena at Toms River High School North. Vaccinations for health care workers are expected to start on Tuesday, Dec. 29 and will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Dec. 29, 30 and 31. Vaccines will be administered by appointment only and will be restricted to people in the CDC’s group “1a,” which consists only of healthcare workers.
“This will kick off what we expect to be months of Covid-19 vaccine clinics throughout Ocean County,” said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the health department. “We have been working with the state and our partners on the logistics of how to handle the distribution. It’s imperative this is done correctly.”
Ocean County Public Health Coordinator Daniel Regenye said that making an appointment will follow a similar procedure to making an appointment for the coronavirus testing site at Ocean County College, Toms River. To access the initial tranche of vaccinations, health care workers who qualify can register at OCHD.org, the department’s website.
“We anticipate providing up to 300 vaccines a day,” Regenye said. “With 1,500 doses that will take about 5 days to complete. It’s important that we adhere to the schedule developed by the federal government and the state Department of Health.”
Regenye said the 1,500 doses are specifically for health care workers (paid and unpaid) who did not receive the vaccine at area hospitals or at long term care facilities and includes public health care workers, school nurses, emergency medical technicians and emergency medical services among others. Regenye said the health department has a long standing relationship with Toms River Regional Schools and school administration is in full support of the use of their facility.
“We have used this facility as a site for our flu clinics,” Regenye said. “They are a key part of the partnership that will help make this a success.”
Eventually, vaccination sites will be expanded to more locations throughout the county. The health department has hired more than 50 nurses to help administer the vaccinations.
“We are well positioned to be set up to distribute the vaccine whether it be at the arena or the future clinics that we will have,” Regenye said.
Since March, Ocean County has experienced 29,274 cases of the coronavirus and almost 1,200 residents have died from it.
The general public is considered group “2” on the CDC’s scale. After group “1a” comes group “1b,” which consists of frontline essential workers, including those who do not work in healthcare, as well as people age 75 and over. Group “1c” consists of people ages 65-74, people ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions, and other essential workers.
New Jersey’s state government – to an extent – is not required to follow the CDC’s exact guidelines and create what has become known as “priority groups” in other states that are closer to completing the 1a vaccinations.