Warren County receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccine

Warren County received its first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines for its health workers.

The Moderna vaccine was distributed by the Department of Health in New Jersey last week as part of the first wave of distribution, said freeholder James R. Kern II, health and public safety liaison. A news release by the Warren County Freeholders did not specifically indicate how many vaccines had been received, but did say that the country expects another shipment next month.

The province, Kern said, will follow state and federal leadership to get those fighting the virus against the front lines vaccinated. EMS staff and school nurses are expected to be among the first to receive the first round of vaccinations, he said.

The province’s health department plans to notify EMS staff and school nurses directly through their groups 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 participate in the effort.

However, it is unclear only when the general public has 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 US vaccination campaign. The vaccine is reportedly very similar to one from Pfizer Inc. and the German BioNTech, which has also been handed out to millions of health workers and nursing home residents as the largest vaccination campaign in American history is underway.

Because initial supply is limited, federal and state plans call for a driven approach that favors healthcare professionals who treat COVID-19 patients directly. As more is manufactured, access to vaccines will expand to other medical workers, people in critical careers, the elderly, and people at high risk. Eventually, if these critical demands are met, it will be available to the general public.

“In the coming months, vaccination against COVID-19 will be the top priority of the health department, and we will use every resource we can to make vaccination available to our community as quickly as possible,” Summers said.

The Warren County Department of Public Safety is working with agencies in the area to make sure it has an accurate list of staff who want to receive the vaccine, Kern added.

“Rest assured, we will continue to fight for more doses for the country, our hospitals and private partners,” he said. He noted that the country will provide information on when these resources will be available as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing is available on a drive-by site sponsored by Warren County in partnership with the St. Luke’s University Healthcare Network by St. Luke’s Belvidere Health Center, at 187 Route 519, Belvidere and by other providers.

A list of other testing options is available on the government’s website.

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