Health care volunteers needed to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations

coronavirus doctor

The Burlington County Board of County Commissioners is putting out the call for licensed or certified health care workers to help with the county’s vaccination program.

“The arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines provides a fantastic weapon for our fight against the disease, but we have a big job in front of us to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of Burlington County residents,” Dr. Herb Conaway, the director of the Burlington County Department of Health and the chair of the county’s COVID-19 Task Force, said in the statement. “That’s why we’re looking for retired or inactive health care workers with active licenses to join our Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). Their help is going to be critical for the delivery of these vaccines, especially when we expand eligibility to the general public.”

The Medical Reserves Corps is a group of more than 600 health care professionals and volunteers who live or work in the county. They train with the Burlington County Health Department and the Office of Emergency Management to prepare for health emergencies.

The group’s volunteers have already been important to the county’s COVID-19 response, particularly its testing program, according to the statement. To date, more than 30,000 people have been tested through the program.

Members of the MRC have also assisted with the Health Department’s contact tracing program, flu shot clinics and the county’s monthly food distribution events. More recently, they have also helped with the county’s initial COVID-19 vaccinations.

From March through October the entire Corps had volunteered over 7,800 hours in service to county residents, according to the statement.

“Since the very start of the pandemic, our Medical Reserve Corps have been on the pandemic front lines of our COVID-19 response with our Health Department, hospital employees and first responders,” Commissioner Dan O’Connell, the board’s liaison to the Department of Health, said in the statement. “When the call went out, our volunteers stepped forward and have been willing to help in any capacity. They have been an integral part of our response and we will be depending on them again during this next phase. We can’t thank them enough for their willingness to step up and help us safeguard public health.”

Burlington County began vaccinating EMS workers and other eligible frontline health care employees last month at the Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center in Westampton and is now also vaccinating police, firefighters and other first responders, according to the statement.

Officials also expect a planned vaccination mega-site at the Moorestown Mall will be ready to open soon. The site is intended to be a regional vaccination center and will be operated seven-days a week through a partnership between Burlington County, Virtua Health and the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. 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, according to the statement.

Burlington County’s Medical Reserve Corps will be called on to assist at both the mega-site and future mobile clinics.

The county is seeking licensed certified health care workers, both practicing or retired, as well as community volunteers such as interpreters and social workers or support staff.  Under emergency executive order, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who have recently retired or have allowed their licenses to lapse within the last five years can temporarily reactivate their licenses through www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/COVID19/Pages/C19-Re-activation.aspx

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with COVID vaccinations should register with the Medical Reserve Corps at www.nj.gov/health/lh/njmrc/ or call 609-265-5468.