As Covid-19 coronavirus cases are going up and vaccines being distributed in the first round, via Phase 1A, there is now an increase in the amount of testing days and hours as well as Monmouth County Commissioners adding a mobile vaccination unit for first responders.

“With the help of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, the County plans to inoculate four days per week, with sites in four towns,” Monmouth County Commissioner Director Tom Arnone said at a press conference on Tuesday. “There will be 50 vaccines administered, strictly by appointment only, at each site. No walk-ins will be accepted.”

This week’s schedule for vaccinating those in Phase 1A include:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Shore Area Communications Center, Neptune Boulevard and State Route 33 in Neptune
  • Thursday, Jan. 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.at the I-Play America Event Center, 110 Schanck Road in Freehold Township

Vaccinations will also be scheduled at the Monmouth County Health Department in Freehold Borough.

At the moment though, all appointments are booked but you can stay up to date on when appointments open up again at www.visitmonmouth.com.

“License, certification of documentation will need to be provided at the time of the appointment to be inoculated in order to prove their status under Phase 1A. Monmouth County has been receiving 500 vaccines per week, for the last three weeks, with no guarantee of future deliveries at this time. The remaining schedule for vaccinating Phase 1A is forthcoming," Arnone said. “I don’t want our residents to feel like we are letting them down, but we don’t have control over how many vaccines we receive or when we receive them. What I can promise is that we will work tirelessly to distribute all vaccines as soon as they are received by the State and advocate for more vaccines to be given to Monmouth County residents.”

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, who oversees the county OEM, has been stressing the importance of making sure first responders and healthcare workers get vaccinated first and that continues today.

“We are eager to begin the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine at designated sites to our healthcare providers, as we steadfastly work to reduce and stop the spread of the virus.  However, the State of NJ should have included members of law enforcement and fire units in the 1A category as well, since they respond to EMS calls and are also on the front lines battling this pandemic,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden. “The health and safety of all healthcare workers, first responders and residents in Monmouth County is of the utmost importance. This effort led by the Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Monmouth County Health Department affirms that we are entering the final stretch in the fight against COVID-19.”

In December of 2020, Sheriff Golden said it was important to have testing immediately available to first responders especially with more testing being done across the board during the second wave.

"As we see the lines grow for testing centers, this is a way to prioritize our first responders as they are just that. Our healthcare providers and first responders are on the front lines of Covid, they really do not need to be waiting in line to be sure or not sure if they have Covid-19 and are awaiting a test," Golden said at the press conference. "So this is a way for them to not wait in line and have a test directly and get a result for themselves so they can carry on with their duties."

Before the vaccine arrived in New Jersey, Sheriff Golden said it's important that healthcare providers and first responders are first in line to receive it.

"When the vaccine is in place, and I know our health department and our emergency management team are working diligently to make sure that vaccinations are delivered accordingly here in the county, they will be delivered to healthcare providers and first responders and appropriately so as the primary provider for our residents safety here in the county," Golden said.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Arnone also discussed a new social distancing campaign in order to address pandemic fatigue among residents.

“We know it has been tough following new restrictions and protocols, but they are in place for your health and ours. We have not come this far to stop following measures that can help stop the spread. We all want this over with – and the sooner, the better,” Arnone said. “That is why my fellow Commissioners and I have invested CARES Act funds in a new campaign to remind Monmouth County residents and visitors to wear a mask, social distance and wash their hands in an effort to slow the spread.”

their campaign messaging includes:

·         No Mask, No Entry

·         Keep Distant, Keep Healthy

·         Wash Your Hands, Guard Your Health

Monmouth County is also adding more Covid-19 testing days and times.

Monmouth County Covid-19 testing times and dates. (Monmouth County Government)

Meanwhile, the Shark River Hills First Aid and Hamilton First Aid and Rescue Squad are teaming up to assist in serving their communities in the Neptune Township area.

“The community will benefit from the strengthening of the volunteer EMS program,” Michael Bascom, chief of the Shark River Hills First Aid Squad, said in a statement Tuesday. “By combining with Shark River Hills, Hamilton First Aid & Rescue Squad’s members will be teamed with Shark River members to provide expanded coverage to the region.”

“To maintain the best possible community service you must change with the times,” Mike DiLeo, captain of Hamilton First Aid & Rescue Squad, said in a statement. “Increased call volume and responsibilities, along with changes in the way the community volunteers, require changes to the way we deliver prehospital care.  The constant improvements in technology and training provide for better prehospital care and outcomes. These must be combined with the ability to provide timely, quality care.”

Bascom and DiLeo said that the Hamilton and Shark River Hills squads will also include the Ocean Grove First Aid Squad and Neptune First Aid Squad.

They said Neptune Township Emergency Medical Services employees career EMS providers to respond to calls Monday through Saturday from 6 AM to 6 PM.

Volunteer responders cover the rest of the hours and all day Sunday.

“Hamilton First Aid & Rescue Squad had a strong 65 years of service,” Bascom said. “They have an illustrious history responding to local calls and some of the major disasters that have hit this area, including Superstorm Sandy and participating in the response to 9/11.”

The Shark River Hills First Aid will provide service to the Hamilton portion of Neptune Township.

Bascom explains that the township is developing volunteer recruitment and a retention program to add more members.

In the Hamilton section of town, Bascom said the change from Hamilton First Aid & Rescue Squad to Shark River Hills First Aid Squad will be seamless.

"The merger will ensure the residents continue to get the best emergency medical service provided by highly trained members when they need it, whenever they need it,” Bascom said. “The combination of these two organizations is a good thing for our community, for the membership of these two legendary EMS operations, and for the future of volunteer EMS in New Jersey.”

To learn more about how you can become a member of the Shark River Hills First Aid Squad visit www.srhfas.org or follow SHFAS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SRHFAS/.

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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