MIDDLETOWN – Monmouth County expanded its vaccination program on Friday with a new clinic at Brookdale Community College that officials hope will set the stage for widespread immunity to a ravaging disease.
The makeshift clinic in the auxiliary gymnasium at Robert J. Collins Arena will be operated by Monmouth Medical Center staff, who expect to provide 2,000 vaccines a week beginning Monday.
“This vaccine helps our community stay safe,” said Eric Carney, president and chief executive officer of both Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood.
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“By wearing masks, washing hands, staying physically but not socially distant and getting the vaccine, we are all doing our part to protect one another,” he said.
The Middletown clinic joins another county-operated site in Freehold. Also underway are clinics operated by the Visiting Nurse Association of New Jersey in Asbury Park, Red Bank, Freehold and Keyport, and pharmacies at ShopRite in Hazlet and Marlboro.
The vaccine has been billed as a potential game changer in a disease that has killed upward of 20,000 New Jerseyans, but its rollout has been slowed due to a lack of available supply.
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Monmouth County has vaccinated about 7.6% of its population over age 18. Ocean County has vaccinated about 6.4%. By comparison, New Jersey has vaccinated 7%, according to state statistics.
Kathleen and Edward Aumack, Shrewsbury residents who are in their 80s, were among 200 people scheduled to receive the Moderna vaccine at Brookdale on Friday.
The Aumacks didn’t give the vaccine a second thought. They both had COVID-19 in October. Kathleen had a bad cough. And Edward had pneumonia, leading to a five-day stay at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.
Now fully recovered, they were told they might not be immune from the disease. The Aunacks searched for an appointment with futility on different websites. But they finally were aided by family members, who got them an appointment at Brookdale, Kathleen said.
“It’s all right,” Kathleen Aunack said, waiting 15 minutes after getting the shot before she could go home. “It feels all right. And I don’t like shots.”
The Brookdale site marks a shift in Monmouth County’s plans. The county initially planned four mobile sites one day a week. Now, county officials will offer shots at two central locations five days a week: Brookdale and the Monmouth County Agriculture Building in Freehold.
For now, residents are encouraged to sign up at www.visitmonmouth.com and place their names on a wait list. They will be contacted to make an appointment. Walk-ins won’t be accepted.
They will have plenty of company. There are 11,000 on the wait list, Commissioner Director Thomas Arnone said. And that is only a fraction of the nearly 490,000 county residents 18 and older who will be eligible for the vaccine.
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Neither Monmouth nor Ocean County have one of the state’s six so-called mega-sites, leaving local officials to piece together a plan to vaccinate residents.
Arnone said he received a call from Monmouth Medical’s Carney, who offered a partnership.
Still, lots of hurdles remain. The county is seeking volunteers, from working at reception to administering the shots. And, of course, it needs more vaccines for what is the fifth-most populous county in the state, with about 621,000 people. (Ocean County, with about 596,000 people, is sixth.)
“The way distribution was handled, I don’t think was done fairly,” Arnone said. “We made it known out there that we thought it should be distributed by population. We’re not asking for the most vaccinations, but we are asking for the fifth most.”
Where to get vaccine
Brookdale Community College in Middletown and the Monmouth Agriculture Building in Freehold. To register, go to www.visitmonmouth.com
Visiting Nurse Association of New Jersey sites:
- Asbury Park: 1201 Springwood Ave.
- Red Bank YMCA: 166 Maple Ave.
- Keyport: 35 Broad St.
- Freehold: 597 Park Ave.
To register, go to www.vnachc.org
Jersey Shore University Medical Center: 1945 Route 33; Neptune; 732-897-7926 hackensackmeridianhealth.org/covid19
CentraState Medical Center, Freehold Township: Call 732-637-6888, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Walk-ins not accepted. Wait times could be long.
Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch: Registrations online only at https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/.
Ocean Health Initiatives: 3600 Route 66; Neptune; 732-363-6655; ohinj.org.
ShopRite: 280 Route 9; Marlboro; or 3120 Route 35; Hazlet; vaccines.shoprite.com
CHEMED: 1771 Madison Ave.; Lakewood; 732-364-6666; chemedhealth.org.
Long Beach Island Health Department: 609-492-1212; lbihealth.com.
Community Medical Center, Toms River: Registrations online only at https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/.
Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, Lakewood: Registrations online only at https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/.
Ocean County Health Department: Multiple locations: 800-342 9738 https://www.ochd.org/covid19-vaccine-update/
Ocean Health Initiatives: 10 Stockton Drive, Toms River; and 798 Route 539, Little Egg Harbor; 732-363-6655; ohinj.org.
ShopRite: 297 Route 72, Stafford; and 860 Fischer Blvd., Toms River; vaccines.shoprite.com
New Jersey mega sites
Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center; https://vaccination.atlanticare.org
Bergen County: Racetrack at Meadowlands, East Rutherford; https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/covid19/meadowlands/
Burlington County: Moorestown Mall (Lord & Taylor); 400 & 401 Route 38; http://virtua.org/vaccine
Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey; 1400 Tanyard Road; Sewell; https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/
Middlesex County: NJ Convention & Expo Center; 97 Sunfield Ave.; http://www.rwjbh.org/covid19vaccine
Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare mall; 301 Mount Hope Ave.; Rockaway Township; health.morriscountynj.gov/vaccination.
Michael L. Diamond is a business reporter who has been writing about the New Jersey economy and health care industry for more than 20 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.