Collaboration across County Lines is Key to a Healthy New Jersey

With our colleagues from the state Department of Health, New Jersey Health Initiatives has joined with leaders and partners from more than 30 nonprofits and service providers in the state, across 16 counties, to identify how all of us — as a team — could ensure everyone had access to the COVID-19 vaccines so they could be vaccinated as soon as possible. From the start of the nationwide rollout of the vaccine in December 2020, we were especially concerned about New Jerseyans who were experiencing homelessness, homebound, without adequate transportation, living with chronic health conditions or otherwise vulnerable.

The effort — after all the devastation and frustration of COVID-19 — was inspiring. One of the keys to the success of this operation was the creation of a learning collaborative – the New Jersey Vaccination Learning Network – that meets weekly to talk about strategies, successes and common barriers, so we can forge solutions together. People come together to share resources, offer support and dive into the unknown of a once-in-a-generation global pandemic.

On July 14, 2021, the Raritan Bay Area YMCA served as the site for a community food distribution event where Perth Amboy residents could get health information and learn about the COVID-19 vaccine and, if interested, take the vaccine. Personnel from the Visiting Nurse Association served as vaccinators for the event. The Raritan Bay Area YMCA is a partner in the New Jersey Vaccination Learning Network. 

The past 18 months have reinforced what many of us working at the community level suspected all along — that collaboration among a network of organizations, all of which have varying assets and areas of expertise, is one of the most important ways we can overcome a massive medical emergency. More than 70% of New Jersey residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine, in no small measure due to the hard work of professionals and volunteers at every level, across the state.

In a recent commentary for NJ Spotlight, Diane Hagerman, Deputy Director of New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI) shared highlights of the learning collaborative’s vaccination work at the community level and the broader lesson that collaboration across municipal or county borders must be part of the strategy for overcoming any barriers to health.

Read the full Op-Ed by clicking here.

Connect with Diane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

See a timeline of the New Jersey Vaccination Learning Network’s collaborative efforts.

Register to attend the Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey Conference, which will include the session Vaccination: From Vaccines to Systems Change: From a Pandemic Spurred a Network for Long-Term Change featuring thought leaders and partners from the New Jersey Vaccination Learning Network.

Students from the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine advertised COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at a pop-up vaccination clinic hosted by Acenda Integrated Health in Gloucester County, New Jersey. The clinic is one of a number of community-based vaccination events that Acenda Integrated Health and its network of community partners have coordinated to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to up to 800 vulnerable people throughout Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem counties. Acenda Integrated Health is a partner in the New Jersey Vaccination Learning Network.