SOMERSET, NJ – As New Jersey expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to include anyone 65 and older, and residents between 16 and 64 with chronic medical conditions, Mayor Phil Kramer told residents on Wednesday that the township and county won’t be the bottleneck to getting vaccine doses to the community.
Kramer urged everyone willing to get the vaccine to register with the state, which will notify individuals when there is an appointment available. But Kramer and Shanel Robinson, the county commissioner director, warned residents that it could be weeks or months before the supply is able to meet demand.
“We will not be the bottleneck,” Kramer said. “We can’t help the supply bottleneck, but … we’re working to make sure that we can push out whatever we get in a reasonable amount of time.”
Robinson said that with the doses scheduled to be administered tomorrow, the county will have distributed 1,588 of the 2,500 it received from the state, with all of them going to schedule 1A recipients – or healthcare workers and long-term care residents.
But once residents receive their first dose, Robinson said they are guaranteed to get a second if required. Kramer suggested that anyone who receives the vaccine, return to the same facility for their second dose – Robinson said they should be making second-dose appointments following the first dose – and check with the administrator that they are receiving the same vaccination for both doses.
“Don’t play around with that, go to the same place,” he said. “Because, you forget to ask; then they assume and think you’re here for your first shot, and they give you a different vaccine.”
Despite the slow rollout so far, Robinson said that the county is planning on making vaccination sites and distribution more widely accessible. Right now, she said the county only has enough supply to cover three days of distribution each week.
“Until we have that inventory to be able to schedule more aggressively, we’re just going to have to take it week to week,” she said.
The county is also looking to Quail Brook for a potential distribution site in Franklin Township, but Robinson said they are still working out the details for expanded local sites. The county is also outfitting three vans to take vaccination and testing operations to residents who cannot visit a site in person.
“We have purchased three vans that we’re currently getting outfitted so that we can take the show on the road,” she said.
The county is pushing to have the vans road-ready in five weeks, which is a faster turnaround than the six to eight weeks the supplier requested. However, the availability of the vaccine will likely remain the biggest factor in distribution.
“Our first doses that we received were a lot of 500, our second shipment we received 2,000, which we asked for 5,000 … So that gives you an idea of what that inventory is like or how the vaccines are being distributed to the different providers,” said Robinson. “The next shipment we’re expecting 1,800 but that could change. Right now, there’s a delay in us receiving that third shipment of 1,800.”
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