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Ocean County Preserving J&J Coronavirus Vaccine Doses As Demand Eases

First Lady Tammy Murphy visits the Henry J. Austin Health Center vaccination site in Trenton on January 7, 2020. (Edwin J. Torres for the NJ Governor's Office)

First Lady Tammy Murphy visits the Henry J. Austin Health Center vaccination site in Trenton on January 7, 2020. (Edwin J. Torres for the NJ Governor’s Office)

Ocean County will maintain its stock of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccination while concerns over rare side effects are ironed out at the state and federal level, officials said Wednesday. Meanwhile, the initial rush by residents to obtain vaccines is showing signs of easing.

“We do have a supply of J&J vaccine that is safe, being stored properly and has a long shelf life,” said Ocean County Commissioner Gerry P. Little. “We will be delivering J&J vaccines if they move forward, but we have paused the delivery for now.”

Anyone who was scheduled to receive Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccination this week or next week at the county’s vaccination clinic at Toms River High School North has now been notified and given the opportunity to receive the Moderna vaccination instead.

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“Many people prefer the J&J because it is one shot, done and done, but everyone was notified,” said Little.

As more of the county’s population receives their shots – either through the county’s own site or other providers – demand is likely to decrease. Indeed, signs of a wane in demand are already beginning to show.

“The demand for the vaccinations is not as intense as it was just a month ago or two months ago,” said Little. “Just as we have seen with the testing, there are many other avenues through which people are getting their vaccinations. We have vaccine, we have appointments available, so we encourage anyone who is looking for a vaccination to go to the Health Department website or Senior Services website, and we can get folks vaccinated.”

Ocean County has distributed 90,000 vaccinations between its two clinic sites in Toms River and Manahawkin. By next week, officials expect to surpass 100,000 vaccinations. In all, state data forecasts that by next week, 325,000 people will have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, representing half the county’s population.

“We certainly have concern with the J&J vaccine having a pause … I think that’s going to create a lot more hesitancy among some people,” said Commissioner Gary Quinn. “But as far as Ocean County is concerned we have had no problems with our vaccinations. We have been very fortunate, and there is an entire team responsible for that.”

Registration to receive the vaccination can be found on the Ocean County Health Department’s website.

“We are much more optimistic now rather than this time last year that we can get out of this and start living our lives again,” Quinn said.

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