Camden County opens vaccination site at college in Blackwood

Location will immediately administer 150 shots per day, with hopes of reaching 500 per day in coming weeks

MATTHEW SHINKLE/The Sun

Representatives and medical professionals gathered at Camden County College on Jan. 13 for the unveiling of the county’s first COVID vaccination site, operated through partnerships with Cooper University Health Care and Jefferson Health New Jersey.

“We are very happy to be here at the vaccination site today,” said Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. “I believe this is the last battle of this virus that is disseminating in our community … This is the beginning of the final battle, where we can begin to eliminate this virus from our society.”

The site is at the college’s Blackwood campus and was established about two weeks prior to becoming operational, but it was unable to open due to a lack of vaccines. The site was also originally the county’s first testing location for COVID, also ready for operation weeks before receiving actual testing kits.

Cappelli spoke about how irritating the process has sometimes been over the past 10 months to make the sites operational.

“If there was the proper coordination at the federal level, we would not have been waiting two weeks for vaccines,” he said. “And way back in March, we wouldn’t have been waiting almost a month for test kits.

“Putting politics aside, there has been a complete lack of coordination at the federal level.”

Cappelli credited the state, local governments and local health systems for establishing testing and vaccination sites, as well as getting the necessary equipment to make them operational.

The vaccination site will be operational Monday through Saturday,  from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. First recipients will be those individuals who fit  the 1A criteria mandated by the state and federal governments.

According to multiple county officials, the site administers 150 vaccinations per day, with the shots supplied by local health systems. In the coming weeks, the county anticipates an increase in the  number of vaccinations to as many as 500 per day, but that number is dependent on receipt of vaccines from the federal government, a supply the county expected would already be available.

“This process is incumbent on us receiving enough vaccinations from the federal and state government,” Cappelli explained. “We are prepared, as of today, to administer up to 500 vaccines per day at a minimum. If we receive enough vaccines, we could vaccinate up to 1,000 per day, but that is out of our control.”

Cappelli also said that qualifications for the vaccine are out of the county’s control and decided by the state and federal governments.

According to county officials, the four-lane vaccination site will be staffed by public health employees, as well as staff members and medical students from both Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and the Rutgers-Camden School of Nursing.

With regard to other potential sites operated by the county, officials have not yet made an announcement, but the possibility is being explored.

Meanwhile, other area institutions have begun administering the vaccine under the Phase 1A time frame, including long-term care facilities and certain health care institutions.

Prior to the event on Jan. 13, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the state will expand its Phase 1A distribution to include seniors over the age of 65 and others with medical conditions.

Residents can register for the vaccine at www.CamdenCountyVaccine.com. The county recommends residents continue to check in on information as it is released at www.CamdenCounty.com.