February 10, 2021

Vaccinations Pass 1M, But Many Still Wait; Local Clinic on Hold

By Donald Gilpin

Over the weekend New Jersey passed the 1 million mark in COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, with 1,085,595 reported by Tuesday morning, February 9, including 842,971 first doses and 242,362 second doses.

The demand for vaccines continues to exceed the supply, however, and residents throughout the state continue to face frustration and delays in scheduling appointments to get the shot. On Monday, February 8, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy pointed out that the vaccine picture in the state is improving, with New Jersey expecting nearly 250,000 doses from the federal government next week, up from about 130,000 doses per week delivered in recent weeks.

He emphasized the accelerating trend in vaccinations in New Jersey, with the first 250,000 in 29 days in late December and early January, then just 10 days beyond that to pass 500,000, then just 16 days for the next 500,000. So far, 55 percent of doses in the state have been the Moderna vaccine and 45 percent from Pfizer, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).

The state has announced that during the current vaccine shortage it will no longer supply vaccines to the Princeton Health Department and other municipally-run clinics. Clinics run by the Princeton Health Department have administered a total of 816 COVID vaccine doses, but will remain on a temporary hold until supply increases to meet demand.

Princeton Mayor Mark Freda and Princeton Council wrote in their February 8 COVID-19 Update that when additional doses become available, “we are prepared to schedule further local clinics to help serve those residents who face challenges in receiving care at the larger regional sites.”

In the meantime, the health department will be assisting vaccination efforts underway at the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) vaccination site. Mercer County is also working with Capital Health Systems to operate the vaccination clinic at CURE arena in Trenton. Appointments are required at both sites through the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) at covidvaccine.nj.gov.

The February 8 Princeton COVID-19 Update goes on to urge residents to use
the NJVSS to register and to take the first appointment offered. Additional help is available on the COVID Scheduling Assistance Hotline at (855) 568-0545.

Some local health care providers are also offering vaccinations and may use a separate registration process. A list of New Jersey COVID-19 vaccination sites is available at covid19.nj.gov.

On Thursday, February 11, people will be able to begin booking vaccination appointments at CVS, with sign-ups at cvs.com/immunizations. CVS has said that vaccines will be administered at 27 CVS locations across the state, including in Princeton, but it has not yet listed specific stores where the vaccine will be available. 

The Princeton COVID-19 Update notes that existing wait lists maintained by local health departments will continue to identify people for county-level vaccine clinics, with eligible residents who have pre-registered with the municipality being offered appointments and then scheduled for vaccines at either MCCC or the CURE Arena.

It may take weeks or more to vaccinate everyone on the current Princeton waitlist, so new additions to the waitlist are not available at this time.

The NJDOH announced Monday that 31 cases of the highly contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first discovered in the United Kingdom had been detected in New Jersey.  One of the cases was found in Mercer County, and the others are spread over 10 other counties in the state. 

On Monday, February 8, the Princeton Health Department reported continuing progress in controlling the virus, with just nine new COVID-19 cases in Princeton in the previous seven days and 17 new cases in the previous 14 days. Princeton’s highest totals were 39 for seven days and 66 for 14 days, both recorded in mid-December.

In his February 9 report, Murphy pointed out positive trends in declining numbers of new cases, fewer COVID-related hospitalizations, and a transmission rate down to 0.83, the lowest rate since late August and significantly below the number 1, which indicates that the outbreak is slowing.

The Princeton Health Department continues to remind residents that “adherence to safety measures like wearing masks, social distancing, keeping hands clean, and covering the face when sneezing or coughing are still very effective in limiting community spread of Covid-19 and its variants.”