NJ closing vaccine mega-sites: Unclear if family doctors will get supply
Calling it another pandemic milestone, the state has announced the planned closure of its six COVID vaccine mega-sites by August.
The state now will begin to focus efforts on the community-based model with close to 1,800 vaccination sites now up and running, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at the state’s remote COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
As for how many of those vaccination sites would be in primary doctor’s offices around the state, it remained unclear.
When asked on Wednesday afternoon about an update on how many physician offices have been added as vaccinators, the department said it would look into the matter.
“We are committed to meeting individuals where they are, where it is convenient, familiar and safe,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said during the briefing.
She also said that pop-up vaccination clinics would continue to play an important role in getting more residents vaccinated, such as the one outside in a ShopRite parking lot in East Orange last month that was attended for support by Whoopi Goldberg.
“New Jersey’s family physicians remain ready and willing to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination effort, should the state require our assistance,” New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians Executive Vice President/CEO Ray Saputelli said in a written statement received Wednesday by New Jersey 101.5.
In April, family physicians had collectively voiced frustration that they were being sidelined from efforts to vaccinate more people against COVID-19.
At that point in early spring with vaccine supply just starting to ramp up, more than 1,000 sites had registered to be vaccinators but didn't yet have doses, according to state health officials.
Other examples of community-based locations currently receiving vaccine supply — “whether it’s at your corner pharmacy, at a school, at a house of worship participating in the 'Grateful for the Shot' program” — were listed by Murphy during the session.
When will vaccine mega-sites close?
The vaccine mega-sites in Gloucester and Atlantic counties would shutter first, after booster doses scheduled for June 18 and 19. They would be followed by Bergen County’s mega-site also in June, and then Burlington, Morris and Middlesex counties wrapping mega-site operations in July.
Both Murphy and Persichilli directed those still not vaccinated to check locations closest to them based on ZIP code search through the state’s COVID website.
How many people in NJ have been vaccinated?
As of Wednesday morning, 8.72 million total vaccine doses had been administered in New Jersey and 4.26 million New Jerseyans were fully vaccinated.
According to CDC data, more than 5.3 million New Jerseyans ages 12 and up have now received at least their first dose – more than 70% of the total vaccine-eligible population.
That means New Jersey has become one of only six states to reach 70% of its population 12 and older having at least first doses, the governor noted via Twitter.
The statewide rate of transmission was reported at 0.73 on Wednesday while the positivity rate was 2.12%.
In the state’s hospitals there were 518 COVID patients, the lowest level since October.
Also attending the state's 200th pandemic briefing, hosted via Facebook livestream, was White House COVID Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.
Zients jokingly referred to his "state credibility," as both of his parents were born in New Jersey - his mother in Elizabeth and his father in Newark.