COVID-19 vaccine supply restored in Monmouth, Essex counties
Vaccination centers in Monmouth and Essex counties were back in business Tuesday after supplies were replenished following weather delays.
The White House said 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were delayed because of the extreme winter weather that crippled the Midwest. Over the weekend, 230,000 doses destined for New Jersey started to arrive, according to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
"All six mega sites received deliveries of Pfizer vaccine on Saturday. We expect the additional backlog doses of Pfizer vaccine to be delivered to the vaccine sites today," Persichilli said at Monday's coronavirus briefing.
Murphy said on WFAN that by Memorial Day he expects anyone who wants to get vaccinated will be able to regardless of age, health or job.
"The good news is that we know that the federal allocations of vaccines will be increasing, and that will allow us to ramp up vaccinations in our state," Persichilli said.
That's good news to Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., who told New Jersey 101.5 that the five county sites are open again after receiving the delayed shipments on Monday, which caused a brief shutdown.
"We received our allotment from last week and we got our allotment for this week so we're all caught up. What we're doing is doubling up on our scheduling and we'll have it all made up by Sunday," DiVincenzo said.
He expects to do 3,700 doses a day, which will bring the total at the end of the week to 85,000 since the county began administering the shots. DiVincenzo anticipates increasing numbers of vaccinations and locations when the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available.
"I want to work with all the senior buildings in the urban centers to go to those places because it's easier to vaccinate them with one shot then going back for two shots," DiVincenzo said.
New Brunswick based Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that it is confident it can deliver 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by the end of June once the FDA grants emergency authorization.
DiVincenzo doesn't blame the state for the delay and praised the communication with Murphy's team.
"They've been excellent with us. They've been hands-on with us and they pick up my calls. Whatever we need we workout together," DiVincenzo said.
Republican Monmouth County Executive Tom Arnone, a critic of the governor's handling of the pandemic and vaccine distribution, also doesn't blame the administration for the lack of supply.
"I never asked to be the first in the amount of dosages but I do expect to be the fifth because of our population here in Monmouth County," Arnone told New Jersey 101.5, adding that the county is now third in distribution.
He said the lack of vaccine shipments made for a stressful time because the county didn't know exactly the supply would arrive but said 5,000 doses arrived in time for Tuesday.
"If we're able to administer these 5,000 vaccines this week that should prove a point to the state and the federal government that Monmouth County does it right, so let's increase their distribution and they'll be successful whatever the goal we want to see vaccinated," Arnone said.
Ocean County commissioners addressed criticism of the vaccine shortage from constituents at Wednesday's meeting,
"We're getting letters saying 'why aren't you doing a better job?' We're doing an outstanding job. We are able to use every bit of vaccine that the state delivers each week," Commissioner Jack Kelly said. 'We're getting many letters blaming the county for something out of our jurisdiction. We would certainly like to have more vaccine and we would make sure we had enough sites and enough nurses and others to man those."
The Ocean County Health Department never closed their vaccination centers but did reschedule some appointments as the amount of vaccine shipped to the county dropped from an expected 5,000 doses to 2,900, according to Commissioner Virginia Haines.
A suggestion by Kelly to pass a resolution requesting more vaccines be sent to the county with the highest senior population was rejected by Director Gary Quinn, who said the governor is well aware of the county's needs in weekly calls.
"It has to be handled very gently because we certainly don't want them to pull vaccine," he said.
LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.