The Burlington County Department of Health has received its first shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and has started administering the first doses to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers and other healthcare workers in a manner consistent with New Jersey’s phased COVID-19 vaccination plan.
“The authorization of the first safe and effective vaccines is something we waited many months for and it’s fantastic to see that it’s now being administered in Burlington County to the very heroes who have spent months on the front lines in service to our residents,” Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson said in a prepared statement on Dec. 28. “This is a milestone we can all celebrate, and I’d like to thank our Health Department and Office of Emergency Management for all their planning and preparations they undertook to make sure they were ready for the vaccine and able to begin administering it as quickly as possible.”
EMS workers from Evesham received their first shot of the vaccine on Dec. 28 as part of the initial launch of Burlington County’s COVID-19 vaccination program. School nurses andother health care workers are also expected to begin receiving vaccinations from the county this week.
“We will vaccinate a few hundred people this week to start, but we expectto expand the number of vaccinations as more supply is made available from the federal and state governments,” Dr. Herb Conaway, the director of the Health Department, said in the statement. “It’s a big undertaking, but we know it’s a tremendous weapon in our fight against the virus.”
The first doses of authorized vaccine began arriving in New Jersey earlier this month and are being administered to mostly frontline health care workers at hospitals.
Virtua has received its own shipment of vaccine and has started administering it to its own employees, according to the statement. The Burlington County Department of Health is responsible for vaccinating other health care employees not affiliated with Virtua or its hospitals, including Hampton Behavioral Health Center and its employees, as well as school nurses.
Conaway said the county will operate its vaccination program out of the emergency services training Center Health Department Building in Westampton until the state’s planned vaccination mega-site is ready to open at the Moorestown Mall.
The mall site is intended to be a regional vaccination center and will be operated primarily by the state Department of Health and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. Once opened, each mega-site is expected to administer as many as 2,400 doses of vaccine daily, according to the statement.
When the mall site opens, the county plans to shift to operating mobile vaccination clinics in locations throughout the county to vaccinate populations unable to travel to the mega-site.
Vaccines are not expected to be administered to the general public for several months and Conaway stressed the need for residents to continue wearing masks in public and obeying social distancing and quarantining guidance.
“While the rollout of the vaccine is exciting, we must remain patient and continue to be vigilant and do our part to prevent the virus’ spread,” he said in the statement.