Ocean County officials prepared for mass distribution of COVID-19 vaccine
Ocean County health experts say they are ready to handle the mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, as the first shipments are preparing to head to the state.
Planning for a moment like this dates back to the late 1990s for people living in Ocean County.
“This is not something that is new,” says Ocean County’s Public Health Coordinator Dan Regenye. “We've had these plans in place for 20 years. We’ve implemented these plans several times from Ocean County’s perspective. We had the potassium iodide to the power plant. We had the H1N1 vaccination in 2009, where we vaccinated 30,000 residents at that time.”
Regenye began his career more than 20 years ago as the county health planner and helped write grants and formulate a response.
“In 2002 following the 9/11 attacks and more specifically the anthrax attacks, a lot of people became aware that there’s the threat of biological threat to our country,” says Regenye. “A lot of planning began to take place in that time.”
Regenye says the rollout to the public will be very similar to the testing sites, including large distribution centers at areas such as Ocean County College – which is now a six-day-a-week testing location.
“As this vaccine becomes more readily available, supply increases,” says Regenye. “You will see this shift from more regional locations to smaller sites throughout the county – within a school, government setting, county facility, faith-based setting -- there are many sites we’ve identified to meet any need moving forward.”
Regenye says the number one challenge will come down to staffing, and currently, the health department is looking for qualified help, such as nurses and assistants to administer the vaccine.
Regenye also says there should be enough supply of the vaccine by the first quarter of 2021 to begin mass distribution to the public.