The Hopewell Township Committee has approved the appointment of a medical director to potentially oversee public COVID-19 vaccinations if the township were to become a local provider.
Committee members appointed Dr. Stephen Vetrano of Physicians Practice Enhancement LLC at a township committee meeting on Dec. 14.
“Basically we need someone willing to sign all the documents that are coming through the township should we want to be involved with the vaccine rollout,” Mayor Kristin McLaughlin said. “We need to; we have citizens who need the vaccine.”
The contract would pay him $500 for one-year from December 2020 to December 2021.
“This proposal is designed in order for us to at all provide any kind of vaccine provisions in Hopewell Township. We need to have medical oversight by a doctor,” Township Committeewoman Julie Blake said. “The reason this is happening now is because there is certain paperwork that has to happen to even get on that list to make it possible. Whether we are a local provider in the next six months or whenever, we would have to have this in place. There are certain series of things that have to be affected to make it possible.”
Township officials see this as the first step in getting all of their ducks in a row should it become available for the township to provide vaccinations to Hopewell Township residents.
“Let’s say that the state decided to take on all of the immunization with major centers across the state, this would be a wasted $500. I do not think that is going to happen,” Blake said. “I think this is good insurance later on when the vaccines are more readily available and that we want to provide a closer service to our residents and have that in place. I do not envision the state continuing for the full year.”
The federal government has allocated 76,050 first doses to New Jersey for the first portion of the Pfizer-BioNTech (ultra-cold chain) vaccine, which began arriving at acute care hospitals on Dec. 14.
According to the state, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Cooper University Hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and University Hospital are receiving doses this week.
State officials said New Jersey will roll out COVID-19 vaccines step-by-step. Phase 1A of the plan, includes healthcare workers who are paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.