MAYS LANDING — The first day of Atlantic County’s COVID-19 vaccinations at Atlantic Cape Community College went about as smoothly as anyone involved could have hoped.
Although about 250 vaccines were administered Tuesday to frontline medical workers at the county’s new vaccination center in Atlantic Cape’s gym, the county is eager to see that number swell ahead of the opening of the “mega” site at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
“We’re limited by the supply that we received,” County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “Not everybody has all they need. Hopefully we will be able to take care of everybody that wants one.”
The vaccine rollout across the country has taken longer than planned, with reports of seniors in Florida sleeping in their cars overnight while waiting in line.
In New Jersey, officials have created a vaccine appointment website through Eventbrite, an event ticket sale platform, to try to prevent site crashes from heavy traffic. The state also recently launched a vaccination registration portal, but it has been marred by technical issues stemming from the online traffic.
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Atlantic Cape President Barbara Gaba said the vaccinations there will continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until the Convention Center site is operational. State officials have yet to announce an opening date for the larger site.
“We work very closely with the county,” Gaba said. “We’ve always been open to the community for various things, so when we got the call from the county executive to be a potential site, they came down and viewed our location to see what we had here. We are conveniently located off the Black Horse Pike and also have convenient parking, so this appeared to be the perfect place.”
Non-hospital frontline workers had to schedule an appointment. According to county spokesperson Linda Gilmore, nine spots were available every 15 minutes.
Upon entering the gym, people signed forms and waited to be called to one of seven tables set up with vaccination equipment. After receiving the dose, they were directed to a section of spaced out chairs to wait 15 to 30 minutes for potential side effects. All chairs were disinfected between uses.
Darrell Sallam, a 52-year-old Galloway Township resident, said she was concerned about the wait when she saw how many cars were in the parking lot, but she soon discovered that wait was virtually nonexistent.
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“No wait, no line and everything ran really smoothly,” said Sallam, who works as a therapist for children with disabilities. “I came in, gave them my paperwork and everything went straight through.”
According to Levinson, the county is doing the best it can with the number of doses it has received. He acknowledged that Atlantic County isn’t as populous as Essex and Bergen counties, so the fact that the state is diverting more of its resources up north is understandable.
During the state’s COVID-19 briefing Monday, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said there are 200 sites statewide and New Jersey has so far received 400,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. As of Monday, the state had administered 101,417 vaccinations of the 650,000 total for health care workers.
Still, Levinson feels the county is more than prepared to see an influx of doses.
“The facilities here will meet the demand,” Levinson said. “We know that.”
GALLERY: Atlantic County opens COVID-19 vaccine clinic
Atlantic County's vaccine clinic begins Jan. 5 at Atlantic Cape Community College Gymnasium for individuals who qualify under the state's vacc…
Atlantic County opened a vaccine clinic for health care workers Tuesday at Atlantic Cape Community College.
Atlantic County health workers administer COVID-19 vaccinations at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing.
People wait 15 minutes after receiving COVID-19 vaccines at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing.
Patrick Kennedy of Mays Landing wait in line for his vaccine shot at Atlantic Cape Community College Gymnasium in Mays Landing, NJ. Tuesday Ja…
Maria Richards from the Atlantic County Division of Public Health gives Patrick Kennedy, of Mays Landing, the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Atla…
Maria Peguero from Atlantic County Health Department gives Maureen Vassi of Collongwood COVID-19 vaccine shot at Atlantic Cape Community Colle…
Maria Peguero from the Atlantic County Health Department gives Maureen Vassi, of Collingswood, a COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Atlantic Cape Com…