After an unprecedented and difficult year of pandemic life, brighter days are finally on the horizon. The Camden County Health Department has been working with Cooper University Health Care, Virtua Health New Jersey, Jefferson Health New Jersey, and our other partners in healthcare to organize a vaccine distribution site at Camden County College in Blackwood that we anticipate could begin serving our community in as few as two weeks.
There has been a lot of confusion over the vaccine roll out process, and I’d like to take a moment here to address the tentative timeline for how a vaccine rollout will occur. Hospital staffs have already begun receiving vaccinations provided within their facility and when the site opens in Blackwood, we will continue providing vaccinations to healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients, as well as other essential medical personnel such as EMS, urgent care providers, and pharmacy staff. Vaccinations are also being rolled out in the county’s long-term care facilities as of this week.
By the end of January, we hope to begin vaccinating the second priority group which includes first responders, law enforcement, education and childcare workers, and some government employees. By the end of February, we estimate that we will be able to begin opening vaccination appointments to all residents ages 65 and over and to adults with underlying medical conditions or who are immunocompromised. Widespread vaccination of the public could then begin in the spring.
These dates are of course contingent on the availability of resources and several other competing factors. Most importantly, however, is that we have an infrastructure in place to distribute the vaccines that we receive. Camden County has that system in place, and we will be putting it into action shortly into the New Year.
The Health Department has made numerous additional resources available at camdencounty.comto help the public better understand why, when and how they should receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, our public health education team has put together critical announcements regarding anticipated scam campaigns using false information about vaccines and vaccine availability. I encourage you to take a few minutes to view this material and to share it within your network.
When this pandemic began, we did not expect that its grip on our community, let alone the entire country, would be so tight for so long. However, we also did not expect that our scientific community would be able to discover an effective preventative at record-setting, breakneck speeds. After months of bad news, I am excited to jumpstart 2021 with such positive developments and with my eyes locked in on the light at the end of the tunnel.