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Coronavirus: Stay Informed

TOMS RIVER – As Ocean County and its partners move into the second week of distributing COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers as listed in Phase 1A, clinic hours have been changed and the number of days have been expanded.

“Starting today, Jan. 4, the hours at the vaccine clinic located at the RWJ Barnabas Health Arena at Toms River High School North have changed to 1 to 7 p.m. and now includes 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Public Health Coordinator. “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.

“We have successfully completed more than 1,000 vaccinations and look forward to continuing this process at the High School North site,” Regenye said. “We will be adding other clinics throughout the County including Southern Ocean County in the near future.”

Those individuals who can currently receive vaccinations now are in New Jersey’s Phase 1A and include 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.

“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.

Due to the current limited availability of the vaccine, appointments are also extremely limited for the remainder of this week and into the following weeks already. For appointment availability for Phase 1A recipients only visit www.ochd.org

For additional healthcare worker COVID-19 vaccine sites please visit the New Jersey COVID-19 information hub at https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/healthcare-worker-covid-19-vaccine-locations.

Appointments for anyone that falls into subsequent vaccination phases are not available at this time.

New Jersey is using a phased approach to COVID-19 vaccination to ensure that limited vaccines are distributed in a fair and equitable manner. Decisions about priority groups and how the doses will be spread across the state may change based on changes in vaccine supply and public demand.

“As of now, we are providing almost 300 vaccines a day,” Regenye said. “It’s important that we adhere to the schedule developed by the federal government and the state Department of Health.

“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.”

Regenye said no specific dates are available as to when the vaccine will be provided to the next phases.
Factors like supply of vaccine, public confidence and uptake, time, and federal guidance will inform data-driven decisions. Governor Murphy will announce when New Jersey changes phases.

There are approximately 650,000 people eligible for Phase 1A, so it may be weeks before New Jersey moves to Phase 1B.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Phase 1B 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.) In addition people aged 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People aged 75 years and older who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1A.

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.

Regenye said the health department has a long standing relationship with Toms River Regional Schools and school administration is in full support of the use of their facility.

“We have used this facility as a site for our flu clinics,” Regenye said. “They are a key part of the partnership that will help make this a success.”

Regenye noted the health department has already made arrangements to open additional vaccinations sites throughout the County. The health department has hired more than 50 nurses to help give the vaccinations.

“We are well positioned to be set up to distribute the vaccine whether it be at the arena or the future clinics that we will have,” Regenye said.