ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (January 22, 2021) – The state COVID-19 vaccine mega site at the Atlantic City Convention Center opened Friday to those with appointments.
Appointments are now being taken for the site, which had an unofficial “soft” opening for city police officers and medical workers Thursday.
The facility was one of six sites in the state announced for such purpose.
Other sites include the Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment complex in Bergen County, which also opened Friday, the Rockaway Townsquare Mall in Morris County, the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Middlesex County, the Moorestown Mall in Burlington County and Rowan College of South Jersey in Gloucester County.
Bill Riveron, of Mays Landing, said he lives right down the street from the vaccination site at Atlantic Cape Community College. Before getting an appointment Friday in Atlantic City, he said he had struck out many times over the past few weeks at other locations.
“I’m very relieved,” said Riveron, 72. “It gets frustrating, but I knew there were a lot of people (also trying to make appointments). So you just have to persevere and hope that you can get in.”
It is not yet known for sure how many people will be vaccinated per day at the Convention Center. AtlantiCare President and CEO Lori Herndon said Wednesday during a virtual town hall that the Atlantic City mega site is anticipated to vaccinate between 2,500 and 3,500 people daily, but that capacity will not be available immediately as vaccine supply from the federal government is still limited.
Forty National Guardsmen will be responsible for the administrative side of the mega site, and the Atlantic City Police Department also will assist.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday during the state’s COVID-19 briefing that about 500,000 vaccine doses had been distributed statewide. As of Friday, more than 1.9 million people had preregistered online, with 1.4 million of them eligible for vaccination.
The governor stressed that the vaccination infrastructure the state’s put in place can handle much larger amounts of doses, and he is confident the new presidential administration will help supply meet demand.
“As I’ve noted before, we’ve built the infrastructure we need from the ground up for an aggressive vaccination push,” Murphy said. “We saw one example of that in Moorestown this morning. All we need are the millions of doses that we had been promised months ago, and I am much more confident today than I was on Tuesday that we’ll get there.”
Shore Medical Center said Friday it would no longer offer the COVID-19 vaccine effective March 3. Instead, the Somers Point hospital will make its resources available to the Convention Center.
“We have been asked to support the mega site, and as a hospital who has been caring for the community throughout the pandemic, we are eager to help so as many people as possible can be vaccinated,” Shore spokesperson Brian Cahill said. “We have taken a leadership role in promoting the vaccine, and our staff has done an incredible job with the vaccine distribution for our staff as well as those frontline essential workers deemed eligible for the vaccine by the state.”
Appointments for the Convention Center are booked for the week, but AtlantiCare’s vaccine website said new appointments will be made available at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The website is vaccination.atlanticare.org.
Herndon said Wednesday that parking will be available in the garage under the Convention Center.
Ahmad Austin – Press of Atlantic City