BERKELEY – Every few weeks, the state has expanded the groups who are able to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, which increases demand without necessarily increasing supply.
Most recently, it was announced that anyone 16 and older could be vaccinated. Meanwhile, there were seniors who still had trouble getting their shots.
That’s what led to a vaccination clinic being held at the Holiday City West clubhouse on Cabrillo Boulevard. It was a spot surrounded by senior communities, and they wouldn’t have to drive to Toms River or Stafford for the county clinics, or as far as Atlantic City for others.
Richard Walker and Donna Lumia, both of HCW, said they came to this clinic because it was close and available. The fact that they were giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was a plus.
“We wanted the one and done,” Walker said.
“We tried Walgreen’s, Ocean County Health Department, CVS…” Lumia said, but it was hard to get an appointment.
Marietta Kobus, president of Holiday City West, said so many of her residents had trouble getting the shot. A lot of them had trouble going online to register.
Two years ago, Congressman Andy Kim (D-3rd) held a town hall meeting in this building. She had kept the card of his chief of staff, Ben Giovine. She called him to ask if something could be done. Soon, arrangements were being made to set up the clinic.
Kim said his office has been hearing a lot of similar complaints from seniors – the lack of vaccine availability, and the difficulty in registering online.
His office coordinated with Ocean Health Initiatives (OHI), a nonprofit federally qualified health center with a number of locations throughout Ocean and Monmouth counties.
Getting a thousand doses of the vaccine, together with the location, medical staff, volunteers, and all the other moving parts was like air traffic control at an airport, the congressman said. That’s why it was better that this was the one-shot vaccine; having to orchestrate this twice within 21 days would have been more challenging.
“I’m really excited to see this in person,” he said, looking around at the crowd.
People filtered in from the rain outside, and made their way to registration tables. Once their identification and insurance information was taken, they were given their shots. Then, they had to wait 15 minutes to make sure there were no side effects.
There was no charge.
John Bonevich, director of marketing for OHI, said their organization changed some of their online registration to make it easier for people who weren’t too tech-savvy.
Theresa Berger, CEO of Ocean Health Initiatives, credited her staff for coordinating almost a thousand vaccinations in just one day.
Days after this event, the state paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to six women between the ages of 18 to 48 suffering blood clots 6 to 13 days after the inoculation. To put this in perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 7.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered as of press time.
OHI published a statement saying they would halt the administration of the J&J COVID-19 vaccines from its seven locations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties as of April 13.
OHI stated how they will continue to follow all guidelines set by the CDC, FDA and Department of Health. At this time, OHI vaccination events will only offer the two dose Moderna vaccine for eligible individuals in the community. You can pre-register for the vaccine at ohinj.org.
Alyssa Riccardi contributed to this story