Camden County officials go door-to-door seeking arms for COVID-19 shots

Camden County uses an ice cream truck as an aide to find people to vaccinate in an area where the unvaccinated are high.

Vaccine team goes out to knock on doors as an ice cream truck waits to offer sweet treats in Camden (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Vaccine team goes out to knock on doors as an ice cream truck waits to offer sweet treats in Camden (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A clinic in Camden County was set up to address people needing first and third COVID-19 vaccinations, but even with a door-to-door effort few people came out for a shot.

The tune of an ice cream truck rang outside the Ablett Village Community Center in Camden, a 23-acre 320 unit housing complex, offering free treats to bring people in to be vaccinated for either their first or third shots. Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were available, but there were few takers.

Darryl Davis was walking his dog when he found out about the vaccination opportunity. He was happy to sit down for the shot, adding he hadn’t been actively avoiding it.

“It was just a matter of timing, I have some elder family and would like to see them, and that’s one of the things that keeps me from going to see them is not having a shot, so I thought it would be best to get my shot.”

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Camden County Commissioner Al Dyer, who was a former public housing resident, said they are working to get as many people of color vaccinated as possible.

“Me, being a person who used to live in this community, it is imperative to get into this community and bring it to these folks and help them get vaccinated,” Dyer said.

Dyer says the communities of Camden don’t necessarily get all the information they need about the pandemic, and he is willing to go door-to-door and bring medical professionals to those who cannot leave their home, so they are vaccinated.

Dyer joined Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen, who went through the housing complex with his bullhorn, calling on those who have not received a shot to go to the community center. Four other outreach teams joined the elected officials, along with police and other community representatives, to provide information about the vaccination program.

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The event was also offering third doses for immunocompromised residents. Kevin Emmons, the Associate Dean of Nursing at the Rutgers School of Nursing in Camden said the medical community is dedicated to putting as many shots in arms as possible. He said they identified the area as one with a high rate of people who have not been vaccinated. They are going directly to the people in the community and explaining how important it is to have defenses through the vaccine, especially against the delta variant of COVID-19.

Emmons said the third shots are for people who are immunocompromised by things such as cancer treatment, who are on medications that affect their immune systems such as transplant recipients, or who have other auto-immune disorders.

Commissioner Dyer said they are working on plans to give the booster shots to everyone as soon as they are authorized to do so.

Dyer added the county is planning to establish another mega-site like the one at Camden County College that gave out thousands of first and second shots when they first became available. That effort is still in the planning stages. Dyer said there is no definitive date for when the site will be ready.

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