The New Jersey EMS Task Force, which has been part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, has begun the transfer and tracking of vaccine doses between vaccination sites to assure that all vaccines are used prior to their expiration dates.
Teams of trained NJ EMS Task Force members began the transfer process June 1 and will continue this critical task throughout the summer. The teams have been trained in CDC guidelines and are tasked with moving vaccine supplies to areas where shots are most needed.
“The Department of Health Operations Team has been working around the clock to make sure vaccines get safely to points of distribution that are closest and most convenient to where the people are,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “We appreciate the critical role our State’s EMS Task Force has played throughout the pandemic as one of our key response partners. This innovative program to responsibly use existing vaccine doses through safe and effective methods of transfer once again shows the importance of state level coordination in close collaboration with our vaccine partners. We are proud to be able to support the readiness of the NJ EMS TF through the recent allocation of over $6M of federal funds for equipment and training.”
The vaccine transfer program is in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health. Since the pandemic began, the NJ EMS Task Force has worked side by side with local, state and national health, emergency management and law enforcement partners to ensure residents get the best care.
“This is part of the evolution of our role in the state’s COVID-19 mission,” says Mike Bascom, president of the NJ EMS Task Force. “We have gone from working behind the scenes, to supporting testing and vaccination sites, to putting shots in arms, and now assuring the vaccines are allocated to the right parts of the state to be most efficient.”
Over Memorial Day weekend, the NJ EMS Task Force partnered with the Visiting Nurse Association of Central New Jersey, the state and others on a Shots at the Shore event to vaccinate visitors to Gateway National Park at Sandy Hook, to Asbury Park and to Long Branch.
The EMS Task Force also has provided administrative and logistics support at mobile COVID-19 testing sites, deployed Western Shelter tent facilities at 20 hospitals, placed oxygen generators at various facilities, and coordinated the deployment of its medical ambulance bus fleet to transport COVID-19 positive patients from long term care facilities and hospitals. The team also helped coordinate the deployment of out-of-state FEMA ambulance teams. The organization assists with coordination of state EMS needs on an ongoing basis.
The Task Force also developed mobile vaccination programs to bring vaccines to people who could not visit traditional vaccination sites. Also, working with the VNACJ, has coordinated staffing at vaccination sites and deployed a drive-through testing site.
“This latest mission shows the breadth and depth of the NJ EMS Task Force,” says Bascom. “Our members have developed, implemented and adjusted to each one of these tasks with true professionalism. Throughout the pandemic, they have sacrificed their time to make sure our communities are safe. Making sure vaccinations are reaching people who need them is a critical next step for the NJ EMS Task Force and the state.”
The NJ EMS Task Force is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that represents more than 200 career and volunteer EMS providers throughout the state, who are trained in various disciplines of emergency medical services to respond to large-scale man-made and natural disasters as well as pre-planned events. The New Jersey EMS Task Force has played a significant role in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also preparing for unseen disasters ahead.