between the lines (2)

I share everyone’s frustration over the current COVID-19 vaccination situation and how difficult it is to get appointments. Simply put, we need more vaccine. But we do continue to see encouraging signs as the vaccination picture evolves. President Biden announced last week that the federal government has secured contracts for 200 million more doses of vaccines, which amounts to a 50 percent increase in supply. Those additional Pfizer and Moderna doses aren’t expected to be delivered until summer, but the supply is building. And potentially coming soon is Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, which, if it receives emergency authorization, will provide another important weapon in fighting the virus.

Meanwhile, Mercer County is hosting two vaccination sites – one at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton in partnership with Capital Health, and the other at Mercer County Community College’s West Windsor campus in partnership with the college and the Mercer County Health Officers Association. To get a vaccination at either location, you must register through the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) or by calling 855-568-0545. More information is available on the COVID-19 Vaccination page on the county website. Again, supply is limited and appointments are currently hard to come by. But the situation will continue to improve, so please be patient.

In recent weeks, first doses of vaccine were administered at municipal health department clinics where health care workers and first responders were prioritized. Until more vaccine becomes available, beginning last week the first-dose allocations provided to the Mercer County Division of Public Health will be dispensed only at the two county sites for those who are currently eligible. (If you received your first vaccination dose at a municipally run clinic, you will still receive your second dose there.) I thank the 12 mayors in Mercer County for being valuable partners in the vaccination process by sharing resources and working with the County team and municipal health officers to vaccinate our residents as quickly and equitably as possible within the parameters established by the New Jersey Department of Health. The only way we can do this effectively is through collaboration. When vaccine becomes more plentiful, local clinics will be needed once again, and we’ll need to continue backing each other up.

The focus may be on vaccinations, but please keep in mind that the basic precautions we’ve all been following for the past 11 months or so still matter. Wearing a mask — and wearing it properly — keeping your distance, washing your hands, avoiding crowds and staying home when you’re sick continue to be necessary to help protect you and those around you. Please remain vigilant. Let’s continue to support each other and work together.

Brian M. Hughes

Mercer County Executive