Warren County has received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for its health care workers.
The Moderna vaccine this past week was distributed by the New Jersey Department of Health as part of its first wave of distribution, said Freeholder James R. Kern II, liaison for health and public safety. A news statement by the Warren County Freeholders did not state specifically how many vaccines were received but did state the county expects another shipment next month.
The county, Kern said, will be adhering to state and federal guidance to help vaccinate those fighting the virus on the front lines. EMS personnel and school nurses are expected to be among the first to receive the first round of vaccines, he said.
The county’s health department plans to notify EMS staff and school nurses directly through their squads and schools with information on how to schedule an appointment. Warren County Health Officer Pete Summers said he expects private providers, including pharmacies and hospitals to join the effort.
It’s unclear, however, just when the general public might have access to the vaccines.
A government advisory panel endorsed the second COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December, paving the way for the Moderna shot to be added to the U.S. vaccination campaign. The vaccine is reportedly very similar to one from Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech that’s also been dispensed to millions of health care workers and nursing home residents as the biggest vaccination drive in U.S. history ramps up.
Because the initial supply of is limited, federal and state plans call for a tiered approach giving priority to health care workers who deal with COVID-19 patients directly. As more is manufactured, vaccine access will expand to other medical workers, people in critical occupations, seniors and people with high-risk health conditions. Eventually, when those critical demands have been met, it will open up to the general public.
“Over the next several months, COVID-19 vaccination will be the health department’s top priority and we will put every resource we can toward making vaccine available to our community as quickly as we are able,” Summers said.
The Warren County Public Safety Department has been working with area agencies to make sure it has an accurate lists of those personnel who wish to receive the vaccine, Kern added.
“Rest assured, we will continue to fight for more dosages for the county, our hospitals, and private partners,” he said, noting the county will provide information on when these sources will be available as soon as possible, he said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing is available at a drive-thru sites sponsored by Warren County in conjunction with the St. Luke’s University Healthcare Network at St. Luke’s Belvidere Health Center, at 187 Route 519, Belvidere and through other providers.
A list of other testing options is available on the county’s government website.
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