Camden and Pleasantville, two South Jersey towns that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, are being included into a statewide initiative to expand the availability of coronavirus vaccines to underserved communities across New Jersey.
Both municipalities, as well as three North Jersey cities, will be the focus of the program's second phase of delivering COVID-19 vaccines to socioeconomically-challenged communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the public health crisis, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday.
Camden City accounts for over 21% of Camden County's total number of COVID-19 cases, which is the most of any municipality in the county. Camden also makes up over 14% of the county's total number of deaths due to COVID-19, which is third to only Voorhees and Cherry Hill.
Pleasantville accounts for over 10% of Atlantic County's total number of COVID-19 cases, behind only Egg Harbor, Galloway and Atlantic City. Pleasantville also has the fifth-highest number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the county, behind the three aforementioned municipalities and Hammonton.
Only Camden and Pleasantville residents will be permitted to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses at these community-based locations, which will include houses of worship. Appointments are required and will be handled directly by each site.
All COVID-19 vaccine doses will be provided by the state. Each community site will partner with a health provider to administer the vaccine doses.
Staffing at these locations will be provided by the Department of Defense and FEMA. The initial COVID-19 vaccinations at each site will take place over a two-week span, followed by a return period for booster shots.
Each location will be able to vaccinate approximately 1,800 people per week. The program, which now includes ten sites across the state, is seeking to inoculate over 34,000 residents, according to the state.
“As we continue our vaccination efforts across the state, ensuring equitable access to appointments and vaccinations remains our highest priority,” Murphy said.
“Our successful collaboration with our faith and local leaders, as well as the federal government, allows us to engage with our communities and deliver vaccination resources directly into the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.”
The community-based program began earlier this month in five municipalities across the state that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the initial five communities selected for the program was Vineland.
The initial rollout sought to vaccinate 15,000 New Jersey residents through March, at a rate of roughly 1,500 residents per week at each site.
Over 1.96 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across New Jersey as of Saturday, Murphy said.
Murphy also said that New Jersey is expecting to receive an initial shipment this week of about 70,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson, which received an emergency use authorization from the FDA on Saturday.
Health care personnel, long-term care residents and staffers, first responders, seniors and people with high-risk medical conditions are currently eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in New Jersey.