By: Follow South Jersey Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — The first neighborhood-based COVID-19 Vaccination and Education Center will open at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center in Camden beginning Saturday, February 20.
Run by Cooper University Health Care, the Cramer Hill site will be open for vaccination appointments for Camden residents only. The Cramer Hill area makes up 38 percent of Camden’s population, but accounts for 44 percent of COVID-19 cases in the city.
The Kroc Center provides a wide-range of community services and was visited by President Barack Obama in May 2015 when he called Camden “a symbol of promise for the nation.” As a place trusted by the community, the Kroc Center is a great location to not only provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine, but to simultaneously create a community setting where local residents can go to learn more about the vaccine.
“Expanding our vaccination efforts to neighborhood based institutions like the Kroc Center are critical to reaching and vaccinating everyone in our community,” Camden County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said. “Working with our partners at Cooper, we believe opening this clinic will provide us with a strong vehicle to deliver this important vaccine. Ultimately, this vaccine is a beginning to the end of this pandemic and we want to ensure it gets into the hands of every Camden resident.”
This vaccination center is also unique as it will be the first in the nation to be established at one of The Salvation Army’s network of community centers. Cooper, as the leading academic health system in the region with a more than 130-year history in the City, is also well-known in the neighborhood and even operates a primary care office at the Kroc Center.
“Camden has been the hardest hit community in Camden County during the COVID-19 pandemic and this first of its kind neighborhood vaccination and education center will help save lives by making it easier for more Camden residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine as well as connect with health care professionals to answer their questions and concerns,” Kevin O’Dowd, JD, co-CEO of Cooper, said.
“Along with our COVID-19 testing site in the city, this new neighborhood COVID-19 vaccination and education site will help us provide important health care information to local residents from a source they have come to trust. It will also be easier for them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus,” Anthony J. Mazzarelli, MD, JD, MBE, co-CEO of Cooper, said.
This new vaccine and education neighborhood based center will initially be open on Mondays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesdays from 2-6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and the plan is to vaccinate 500 people a day. Hours will expand as vaccine supplies increase. Vaccinations will be by appointment in accordance with New Jersey State prioritization categories. Multilingual staff will be available at the center to help residents sign-up for appointments and provide education on the vaccine.
“The Salvation Army has been fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines since the pandemic began. We are blessed to partner with Cooper to offer critical vaccination services and educational outreach for our neighbors in the Camden community,” said Captain Keith Maynor, Kroc Administrator.
“It has been eleven months since the coronavirus pandemic hit South Jersey, and we are still in the midst of both a public health crisis and an economic crisis,” said Congressman Donald Norcross who attended the kick-off event announcing the launch of the new site. “This new COVID-19 vaccination and education center will provide Camden residents with access to the vaccine and outreach services. While no one could have predicted the pandemic, I commend Cooper University Health Care and Camden County for their responsiveness and innovation during these uncertain times to get testing, vaccines and resources to those in our community who need it most.”
Cooper’s neighborhood COVID-19 vaccination and education center is receiving a wide range of support from the Kroc Center, Camden County, Camden County College, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, and the Rutgers School of Nursing/Camden.
“The City of Camden has been hard hit by this pandemic from the very start,” Camden Mayor Frank Moran said. “Camden has been fortunate to have outstanding community partners like those at Cooper University Health Care and Camden County who continue to aid our residents in the battle against the COVID-19 virus. We all must do our part to protect our families, neighbors, co-workers and those most vulnerable living within our community. Having access to the vaccine and trusted healthcare professionals at neighborhood sites like the Salvation Army Kroc Center is a difference-maker. I have recently been vaccinated myself and can assure residents that the vaccine is safe. I urge all eligible Camden residents to get the vaccine so we can put an end to this public health crisis.”
In addition to this new site, Cooper provides support to the Community Vaccination site operated by Camden County at Camden County College in Blackwood, which is open to all residents. The Kroc Center is located at 1865 Harrison Avenue in Camden. City of Camden residents can schedule an appointment online at my.cooperhealth.org or call 856-225-6141.
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