New Jersey reached a milestone in its COVID-19 vaccination program this week as more than 1 million people in the state now have been fully vaccinated. Mercer County is making steady progress as well, with more than 82,500 County residents having received at least their first dose of vaccine. That number reflects doses that have been administered to Mercer residents at our two County vaccination sites, as well as at municipal clinics, state mega-sites, and other locations such as hospitals and pharmacies.

We’re fortunate to have three safe and effective vaccines as weapons for fighting the pandemic. The stumbling block everywhere has been lack of vaccine supply. Mercer County is dependent on the state government for vaccine supply and the state is dependent on the federal government for its weekly allotment. I have pressed the governor’s office for more vaccine at every opportunity, and our County government is now receiving about 3,000 doses a week when in late January we were getting 800. Every vaccine dose we receive goes into someone’s arm. But lack of supply has prevented even more of our eligible residents from getting vaccinated.

That’s about to change.

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Governor Murphy reiterated this week that he expects New Jersey’s allotment from the federal government to increase significantly by the beginning of April, including the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is transportable and enables us to reach our most vulnerable residents.

In the meantime, I urge anyone who has not yet registered with the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) to do so, either by completing an online form or by calling the state vaccination call center at 1-855-568-0545 for phone support. Registering through NJVSS is necessary to get a vaccination at one of the two County sites, CURE Insurance Arena and Mercer County Community College. You also have the option of making an appointment directly with a vaccination location that does not use NJVSS.

A list of those sites can be found here.

The imminent increase in vaccine supply is good news. But not enough people have been vaccinated yet to suppress the virus, which means that basic public health measures -- mask wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, avoiding large gatherings and staying home when sick -- remain necessary to keep COVID-19 and its variants at bay.

And testing is still an integral part of the pandemic response. Health officials say getting tested is especially important if you’re experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus or have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. Mercer County offers a free at-home saliva test for COVID-19 through a partnership with Vault Health Services. Details on the at-home testing program as well as a list of COVID-19 testing locations can be found on the COVID-19 Testing page on the County website.

We’ve been on a difficult yearlong journey together, and we’ve come too far to let our guard down now. Please continue to mask up, and when you’re eligible to be vaccinated, take whichever shot is available to you. Let’s support each other and keep each other safe. Let’s continue to work together.

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