More than 100,000 Ocean County residents flock to OCHD website to book vaccination
It's a phrase that stands nearly the test of time, patience is a virtue.
During the second wave of the pandemic with two sets of vaccines being circulated, it's easy to get excited or anxious about making sure you have an appointment to go and get vaccinated for yourself, your loved ones, friends, the community and so forth....and you will have that opportunity, but at the rate the vaccine is being shipped by the state, it'll be a little bit of a wait.
In Ocean County, the Health Department is asking for some patience as all vaccination appointments are booked solid at the moment at the RWJ-Barnabas Health Arena in Toms River.
There's been a flurry of calls and emails in the last two days alone to the Ocean County Health Department, that is clogging up the system on the website and the phone lines.
“We had 10,000 contacts within minutes after the announcement,” Ocean County Commissioner Gerry Little, liaison to the OCHD said in a statement. “There were 25,000 appointments that already were made taking us to the end of February.”
The OCHD said they will make announcements on when more appointments are available again.
"We are asking residents not to call or email with questions regarding scheduling but to instead visit the OCHD website at www.ochd.org and Facebook page for up-to-date information and phase eligi-bility guidance," OCHD Public Information Officer Brian Lippai said. "Additionally, the appointment scheduling page is currently experiencing some technical issues. The volume of individuals trying to register for vaccination appointments is extremely high thus slowing down the registration process and creating other kinks in the system."
If you have made an appointment, you're all set, it just make take a little bit to receive the confirmation email.
However, once you get the first dose of the vaccine you can't make the second appointment on site, you'll get an email with a link to register the following day.
As of today, only Phase 1A eligible people, including sworn in law enforcement personnel and fire professionals, seniors 65 and older and individuals 18 to 65 with medical issues (per CDC guidelines) can make an appointment.
Ocean County has been told by the state and federal government that more vaccines will be made available in the near future.
To date, the Ocean County Health Department has distributed about 5,000 shots of the Moderna vaccine at the RWJ Barnabas Health Care arena in Toms River.
The vaccine is also available at some supermarkets in the County and certain health care providers.
Ocean County has appealed to Governor Murphy’s staff to require hospitals to expand the vaccine distribution in order to serve the public that can now get it.
“We need all our health care providers to be a part of this effort,” Little said. “Access to the vaccine needs to be everywhere.”
Ocean County Public Health Coordinator Dan Regenye said as of today, there are currently no appointments for the vaccine available through the health department.
“All of our slots are currently filled while we await more vaccine,” Regenye said in a statement.
Regenye added that the state announcement opening up the vaccines to a larger segment of the population while unanticipated to come so early in the distribution, was still welcome.
“We are averaging about 500 vaccinations a day at the arena at Toms River High School North and ramping up to give out 700 daily,” Regenye said. “We can do more so long as we have more staff and more vaccine. We are just awaiting a timeline for its arrival.”
Regenye said that once the state made its announcement, more than 100,000 people tried to make appointments on the county health department website.
“For every one person that was able to get an appointment, five or 10 couldn’t,” Regenye said. “We are doing all we can to accommodate everyone but we need all health care providers, from hospitals to home health services to help. We need to do this just as we do our seasonal flu shot model with numerous distribution sites including food stores and pharmacies, doctors and urgent care."
In the meantime, the OCHD is setting up a second Ocean County Health Department vaccination clinic which is expected to open at Southern Regional Middle School on January 19.
It is scheduled to be open Tuesdays and Saturdays. More info to come.