January 13, 2021

Health Officials Ramp Up Vaccine Delivery

By Donald Gilpin

With COVID-19 vaccine clinics proliferating throughout the state, the Princeton Health Department has ramped up its vaccination program, administering vaccines to 240 police officers, firefighters, health workers, medical office personnel, and others eligible on Monday, January 11 at the Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC) on Monument Drive, in phase 1A of the state’s vaccine rollout.

Also, all staff and residents at Acorn Glen and Princeton Care Center who wanted a vaccine have received their initial doses, the health department reported.

“As more mega clinics open and the state works through phase 1A, more than 300 additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be available statewide as phase 1B begins,” said Princeton Press and Media Communications Director Fred Williams. “Preparation efforts by municipal and county health officials across the state as well as here in Princeton will ensure that people who request the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to receive it.”

Williams expressed the health department’s gratitude to scores of volunteers who have assisted in running the clinics. “Doctors, nurses, and many other health professionals, retired and actively working, are making a big difference,” he said.

As of Tuesday, January 12, New Jersey had administered 233,555 doses of the vaccine, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), out of 657,000 doses received so far. Mercer County reported 5,948 doses administered.

Vaccinations will not be available for the general public until April or May. Only health care workers, residents and staff of long-term congregant settings, sworn law enforcement personnel, and fire professionals are currently eligible to receive vaccinations. The remainder of essential workers and other individuals 75 and older included in the second phase (1B) of vaccinations will become eligible soon, as vaccine availability expands, according to the NJDOH.

The following phase (1C), for other essential workers, adults 65 and older and individuals 16-64 with high risk medical conditions, will then take place before vaccines are available to the general public. The phases will overlap.

The goal is for 70 percent of adult residents in the state, approximately 4.5 million, to receive vaccinations by the end of May. Individuals are encouraged to register at covidvaccine.nj.gov, even if they are not yet eligible for a vaccination. More than one million New Jersey residents have registered so far.

In addition to two out of six planned mega-sites currently open for vaccinations, there are vaccinations available in 119 localities throughout the state, including some local health departments, some ShopRite stores, and some pharmacies.

There are seven vaccination sites now open in Mercer County, including the one run by the Princeton Health Department at the PSRC. The county plans to open a site at Mercer County Community College on January 28 and 29.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced yesterday that the death toll caused by COVID topped 20,000 in the state, with an additional 108 deaths reported Tuesday. There were 4,219 new cases reported with the seven-day average up 18 percent from a week ago and up 7 percent from the post-Thanksgiving spike a month ago.

Princeton’s case numbers for this week were not available at press time, but last Friday, January 8, the Princeton Health Department reported numbers slightly below their highest totals of the past 10 months. There were 36 new cases reported in the previous seven days, three fewer than the highest seven-day total, which came in December. The 14-day total was 60, down slightly from the mid-December previous high of 66. As of Friday, there were 48 active positive cases reported in Princeton.

Princeton University students, including most undergraduates, will be returning to campus later this month, by January 24 for a COVID test and a 10-day quarantine before the first day of second semester on February 1. The students will also be tested on Day 3 and Day 5, then twice each week for the rest of the semester.

Two University dormitories have been reserved to house students who test positive for COVID-19, and additional University facilities are available, if necessary. The University also has a team of contact tracers to monitor any University students, faculty, and staff who test positive.

The Princeton Health Department and the University maintain close cooperation and communication.