Saturday, January 16, 2021
Like so many COVID-19 vaccination sites throughout the state, the January 19-21 vaccinations clinics provided by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing are currently full.
According to County Executive Dennis Levinson, the demand far exceeds the supply.
“The state estimates there are now more than four million people in New Jersey eligible to receive the vaccine, but the state is only receiving 100,000 doses a week. When people hear they are now eligible, they may not understand that is no guarantee of an immediate inoculation.”
Governor Murphy has stated there is a supply and demand problem and that it could take six to eight weeks for individuals to receive their initial shots. He has urged patience.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook with people looking for appointments, not only through the county but elsewhere. They are frustrated that no matter where they look there is nothing available,” said Levinson. “But we can only provide vaccinations if we have the supply to do so.”
“It’s especially difficult for the elderly, many of whom have been homebound for months in fear of contracting the virus. They are desperate for the protection offered by the vaccine.”
The county has held public vaccination clinics since January 5 for eligible populations as designated by the state. This has included frontline health care workers, uniformed police, fire and paramedics. As of January 14, it also includes individuals 65 and older and 16-64 with specific medical conditions. Individuals within these populations must live, work or go to school in New Jersey, however, they are not required to receive the vaccine within the county where they live, work or go to school.
“The state has also directed us to utilize an honor system. We cannot ask for any identification or proof of residency, age, medical condition, etc. We cannot prevent people outside Atlantic County from receiving the vaccine at our clinics. If the vaccine were more readily available this might not be a problem, but it isn’t. This only serves to diminish the supply for our own residents.”
Levinson said the county has been careful not to over promise and under perform. The number of appointments offered at the county vaccination clinics is based solely on the available supply.
“This is not Florida. We will not have people lined up outside, 24 hours-a-day in the middle of January only to be told we’re out of vaccine.”
“If we are able to confirm more vaccine for next week we will make more appointments available,” said Levinson. “We are diligently working to get shots in arms to help mitigate the spread of this deadly virus.”
The Atlantic City Convention Center will serve as one of six vaccination mega sites in the state and could open within the week although the state has yet to confirm an exact date. Levinson said he hopes its opening will bring more vaccine to our area and help allay the frustration among local residents.