Last week, hospitals in the Garden State began inoculating healthcare workers with the Pfizer vaccine, the first vaccine approved to fight COVID-19. As of Sunday afternoon, 26 hospitals in the state had administered 8,704 doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to workers, according to the state.
This week, hospitals and health centers in the state started administering the two-dose Modern vaccine — the second vaccine approved by the FDA — to workers.
Some healthcare workers just had to drive up in their cars and roll down their windows to get it — at Ocean Health Initiatives, they pulled up their shirt sleeves and received the shot through their driver’s-side window. They then waited in their vehicle for 15 minutes so staff could if there were any side effects.
The state plans to roll out both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in phases in the coming months, first to healthcare workers and longterm care residents and staff members through January. All recipients for both vaccines need two shots, a few weeks apart.
After that will come essential workers and people over the age of 65 and with high-risk health conditions. Vaccinations at New Jersey’s longterm care facilities have begun after missing a deadline a week ago.
A broader rollout to the general public is expected in April, May, or June. New Jersey’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of its adult population over the next six months. The state is setting up six mega-sites for vaccinations and about 200 satellite sites over the coming months.
Murphy also stressed that while hospitals have received much attention during the pandemic, health clinics like the one in Toms River have been critical to helping give tests, treat patients, and snuff out outbreaks. He said Ocean Health Initiatives was key to quelling an outbreak in Lakewood and other parts of Ocean County in September and October.
Officials emphasize that though the vaccine rollout has started, residents across New Jersey should not get a false sense of security because the pandemic will continue to hit the state over the coming months. They call on residents to keep wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing hands to help curb the spread.
New Jersey on Tuesday reported another 4,686 cases of the coronavirus and 104 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths — the first time since June that state officials announced 100 or more fatalities in one day.
Meanwhile, coronavirus hospitalizations across the Garden State increased for the fourth straight day Tuesday, though the statewide transmission rate dropped further below the key benchmark of 1.
“Today, we are still a long way away from our ultimate victory,” Murphy added. “But there is no question there is a light on the horizon in the form of these vaccines.”