TOMS RIVER – The vaccination clinic at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena at Toms River High School North for healthcare workers that the Ocean County Health Department started has increased its hours of operation.
Starting this week, the hours expanded to 1-7 p.m. during the week. A Saturday schedule of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. was added.
“The vaccinations are distributed by appointment only and for now only to those who fall under the Phase 1A which is established by the state and federal governments,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Public Health Coordinator. “We have successfully completed more than 1,000 vaccinations and look forward to continuing this process at the High School North site. We will be adding other clinics throughout the County including Southern Ocean County in the near future.”
Phase 1A includes any paid or unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home. It also includes people aged 75 years and older who are also residents of long-term care facilities.
“The doses we are distributing are for those health care workers (paid and unpaid) that 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.
Appointments are filling up due to limited availability of the vaccine, he said. To make an appointment, visit ochd.org.
There are approximately 650,000 people eligible for Phase 1A, so it may be weeks before New Jersey moves to Phase 1B, he said. This includes frontline essential workers such as firefighters, police officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector (teachers, support staff, and daycare workers.)
Currently, the county is administering 300 vaccines a day at this location. Other healthcare facilities are also giving doses.
Regenye said no specific dates are available as to when the vaccine will be provided to the next phases. It will be announced by Governor Phil Murphy based on supply of vaccine, federal guidelines, and how many people take it.
“While we expect the demand will be high, there is a process we are required to follow,” he said. “Hopefully the supply of vaccine will increase quickly and distribution will do the same.”
Ocean County Commissioner Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department, said agencies in Ocean County are working intensely to get the vaccine to the individuals eligible in the first phase.
“We are following the guidelines given to us by the state and the federal government,” Little said. “I am pleased to hear there is such a great interest in people getting the vaccine. We all want to see COVID-19 stopped.”
Ocean County is working in partnership with the Ocean County Health Department, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management, Toms River Regional Schools, the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, and health care providers, to distribute the vaccine.