TRENTON, N.J. – A sluggish and disappointing rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in New Jersey has frustrated residents and pushed Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso to demand Gov. Phil Murphy consider other efforts.
“The Murphy administration had months to devise a plan and the best they could do is a hodgepodge of convoluted websites that are impossible to navigate unless you’re an internet savvy millennial, and an ineffective prerecorded hotline,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Murphy needs to stop deflecting blame to the federal government and start taking some accountability by resolving the problems with the vaccine rollout.”
New Jersey partners with CVS and Walgreens through a federal program to deliver the vaccines. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled by Bloomberg, the Garden State has only used about 48 percent of its allotted vaccines and falls below the national average of doses administered per capita.
“Murphy said the only thing we need are more doses, but finally, albeit begrudgingly, admitted to problems with the pace at which Walgreens was administering the vaccine,” said DiMaso. “There has to be a better way. I urge the governor to look at what other more successful states are doing.”
DiMaso cited West Virginia and Delaware as states that are creatively using their resources to administer the vaccine.
West Virginia decided to partner with 250 mostly smaller, in-state pharmacies to manage its vaccination efforts. It has delivered more shots per capita than any other state and was the first state to offer the first dose of the vaccine to all of its long-term-care facilities.
In Delaware, their governor and the health department converted vehicle inspection stations into pop-up vaccinations sites. Cars drive through the facilities’ lanes and the occupants get their first of two shots from local nurses, hospital and other qualified staff. A recent three-day event ended with around 9,000 doses of vaccine administered.
“We have to start thinking outside the box,” stressed DiMaso. “There are also legislative solutions, including ones I sponsor, that can help speed up the process.”
DiMaso has bills that would authorize paramedics (A5229) and certified medical assistants (A5265) to administer the vaccine. They have been referred to the Assembly Human Services and Health committees, respectively.
“Governor Murphy and his administration are failing New Jersey due to their lack of imagination. This time, that lack of imagination has had devastating real-world consequences harming our efforts to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic and reopen New Jersey,” said DiMaso. “We have more than 4 million residents who are now eligible to get the vaccine; unfortunately, our most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations are struggling to even get information on how to make an appointment.”