(Camden, NJ) – The Camden County Board of Commissioners has opened a COVID-19 vaccination site at Camden County College. The site will be supported by volunteers from Cooper University Health Care, Jefferson Health – New Jersey, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, and Rutgers College of Nursing and operate six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will administer 500 vaccinations a day. To register for a vaccination by the state mandated phase individuals can go to www.CamdenCountyVaccine.com.
County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli, Jr., talked about the importance of getting this vaccine into the hands of the public as quickly as possible.
“We all want to see an end to this pandemic and the more people who are vaccinated, the quicker we will see a return to the lives we use to know. For the first time since March there is light on the horizon,” Cappelli said. “This is an unprecedented vaccination effort that takes significant logistics and coordination to get the vaccine to everyone who wants it. The State of New Jersey ultimately determines the number of doses available and the timing about who is eligible to receive them. Nevertheless, getting this vaccine out to the public is one of the most important duties we have to protect the health and welfare of our residents and we are going to do everything possible to achieve that objective at Camden County College and hopefully other locations soon.”
Cooper University Health Care has been a vital medical partner to the county throughout the pandemic and will now take on the critical process of vaccine distribution. Both CEOs of the organization talked about the dedication they have to the region and its residents.
“Cooper is committed to working with state and local officials to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one in the Southern New Jersey region as we enter a new phase of vaccine distribution and battling this pandemic,” said Kevin O’Dowd, JD, co-CEO of Cooper.
“Just as we have been committed to providing testing and caring for those afflicted with COVID-19, Cooper is focused on protecting the community by educating and encouraging people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and ensuring an effective vaccination program,” said Anthony J. Mazzarelli, MD, JD, MBE, co-CEO of Cooper.
Jefferson Health – New Jersey has also provided support and logistics to the vaccination site and has been a valued partner in this mission to provide access to the vaccine. The healthcare system has also played a key role in providing testing and medical professionals to the county over the course of the pandemic.
“Jefferson Health is pleased to be able partner with Camden County in this important vaccination program,” said President Brian Sweeney. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have worked closely with Camden County through the establishment and staffing of various testing sites. Now, we are excited to provide staffing and support for this new vaccination program. Vaccination is our best protection against COVID-19 and we are honored to do all we can to help frontline healthcare workers – and eventually, members of the public – receive this vaccine.”
The four-lane vaccination site will be staffed by public health employees, staff from both healthcare institutions and medical students from Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) and the Rutgers-Camden School of Nursing. Both organizations will have a key role in administering the vaccine and performing other functions in support of the clinic at the college campus. The Cooper Medical School and Rutgers Nursing students were vaccinated by Cooper to build the volunteer workforce for the vaccination site.
“This is the largest public health mass mobilization event in our lifetimes, and our medical student volunteers are ready and willing to do their part,” explains Annette C. Reboli, MD, dean of CMSRU. “Nearly 200 students have already received training in all aspects of operating a clinic, from registration, to administering vaccines, to post-vaccination monitoring. Their engagement is remarkable.”
The Rutgers-Camden Nursing School has been a vital piece to the foundation of the vaccine site.
“Nurses have always been at the front lines of every crisis, and never have we needed a dedicated and knowledgeable corps of nurses more than we do today,” says Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden Dean Donna Nickitas, PhD. “The Rutgers–Camden nursing school is proud that more than 350 of our students will join Rutgers faculty and alumni to be trained in – and then actually implement – the delivery of vaccinations to our South Jersey families and neighbors.”
Across the state, vaccinations are currently being administered to groups within the Phase 1A population, including healthcare personnel and individuals working and living in long-term care facilities (LTCs). Initial vaccinations were provided to qualifying individuals working within hospital settings last month. As the rollout continues, non-hospital based healthcare personnel will also become eligible as part of Phase 1A.
The New Jersey Department of Health currently defines “healthcare personnel” as all paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct and indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Licensed healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists
- Staff like receptionists, janitors, mortuary services, laboratory technicians
- Consultants, per diem, and contractors who are not directly employed by the facility
- Unpaid workers like health professional students, trainees, volunteers, and essential caregivers
- Community health workers, doulas, and public health professionals like Medical Reserve Corps
- Personnel with variable venues like EMS, paramedics, and autopsy workers
- Other paid or unpaid people who work in a healthcare setting, who may have direct or indirect contact with infectious persons or materials, and who cannot work from home
Starting today, vaccinations will be available, by appointment only, to members of Phase 1A population and exceptions in the 1B population concerning firefighters and law enforcement.
“It’s important to emphasize why an approach that prioritizes certain groups is not only appropriate but critical,” Cappelli said. “By vaccinating healthcare personnel, first responders and long-term care residents and employees we can reduce staffing issues that interrupt care to those who contract the virus. This, combined with prioritized vaccinations for groups that face higher mortality rates due to COVID-19, will dramatically reduce the number of deaths caused by this pandemic, and allow our community to safely return to a normal course of business faster than if we distributed the vaccine to all residents, regardless of age, risk, or place of employment, from the onset.”
Once vaccine availability expands, vaccination will advance to Phase 1B (essential frontline workers). Examples include, but are not limited to:
- First Responders (Already being seen)
- Education /Childcare
- Food and Agriculture
- Water Sanitation
- Adults over 75 years of age
Then Phase 1C (adults over 65 or with underlying medical conditions), and eventually Phase 2 (general public). The definitions of these groups remain subject to change, but will be made explicit as the rollout progresses.
Individuals with questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine can call the vaccination information hotline. A hotline to assist individuals with scheduling their vaccination appointment will be available in the coming weeks.