RowanSOM To Expand COVID-19 Vaccinations Through $1M NJDOH Grant

By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern

Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine in Camden. Photo credit: RowanSOM.

CAMDEN, N.J. – The New Jersey Department of Health has recently awarded the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) a grant for close to $1 million to expand COVID-19 vaccinations to vulnerable and underserved populations in New Jersey. Since then, the RowanSOM team has done an enormous amount of credible work to reduce COVID’s adverse effects. 

As COVID-19 vaccination rates increased in New Jersey, many underserved communities fell short, leaning towards dangerous health outcomes like severe or fatal complications, and were allotted for increased care. Those at-risk communities included housing insecure adults, individuals with substance abuse disorders, and their children. 

“We are in the middle of a lot of underserved communities, so Camden County and those areas primarily have lots of people of color and Hispanic populations which don’t have as much access to care. We are trying to serve those populations as much as we can, and that was the objective behind the vaccination grant,” said Vrushank Shah, a team member of the group that received the grant.

With this grant, the RowanSOM team aimed to increase access to COVID-19 testing, education, and vaccinations through the experience of Rowan Medicine’s highly accredited “Operation Save Lives,” which delivered nearly 60,000 vaccinations during 2022 through their vaccination center at Stratford Vaccination Center, pop-up clinics, a medical van, and house calls for homebound residents. 

“Before we got the grant, we vaccinated around 60,000 individuals,” said Shah. “But, now we have vaccinated approximately a couple hundred to a thousand individuals with this grant.”

NeuroMusculoskeletal Institute (NMI) director Dr. Richard Jermyn, who works within RowanSOM, works with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, the Spanish Community Center, Rowan Medine, and other organizations to reach underserved and adult communities in South Jersey still to this day. 

Physicians, nurses, and medical student teams within RowanSom also continue to extend outreach projects to faith-based organizations, homeless shelters, residential substance use treatment agencies, and Hammonton-area farms for their work that could contribute to RowanSOM’s mission. 

These efforts include extending clinical hours at existing Rowan Medicine offices and a program that provides rides to Rowan Medicine offices and pop-up clinic locations where COVID-19 vaccines are available. 

“We have seen an impact. We have vaccinated from 10 to 45 individuals at a time, so we have seen impacts in specific areas, and as COVID-19 has progressed, we have had to reduce the amount of people that are vaccinated because we have already vaccinated individuals in particular areas,” said Shah. “It has definitely been impactful, and we have definitely helped to reduce hospitalizations that may have occurred due to Covid.”

In the future, the RowanSOM team wishes to expand its efforts towards post-COVID impact effects with health screening tests and sustainable healthcare for those with chronic diseases that exist due to healthcare disparities. 

The RowanSOM team is always searching for organizations to partner and work with to further its mission to serve underserved populations in New Jersey. If your organization is interested, email

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