New Jersey marks 1 year since first COVID-19 vaccine dose administered

It has been one year since the first COVID-19 vaccine dose was administered in New Jersey.
New Jersey health officials organized a blitz of booster shots across the state to mark the event. Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli declared Dec. 15 “Boost New Jersey Day.”
Nurse Maritza Beniquez was the first person in the state to get a dose of the vaccine.
“It has been an incredible year,” she says.
One year later, Beniquez was back where it all began – working at University Hospital in Newark.
“I’m not afraid and I think that was one of my major goals to get vaccinated – was that I didn’t want to be afraid anymore and I didn’t want to get sick,” she says.
University Hospital president and CEO Dr. Shereef Elnahal says that New Jersey is in a better position today than it was one year ago.
State officials say that 14,980,431 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state to date. And health officials and Beniquez are encouraging everyone who is eligible to get a booster shot.
“The booster is immensely important. I took my booster in September. Not just me – thousands of us. And thousands of us are safe,” Beniquez says.
“While we've come a really long way in a year, this virus is unrelenting. It certainly is the most active adversary we have ever had to confront in our lifetime,” Persichilli says.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have more than doubled in New Jersey since the end of November. But even then, they are still half of what they were one year ago.
“About half of our admissions for COVID-19 right now are patients who are fully vaccinated, but not yet boosted,” Elnahal says.
And with Princeton University taking finals remotely amid a rise in COVID cases there, the governor was asked if boosters could soon be mandatory for college and school-aged students.
“Too early to tell. But right now, I just want to reiterate the message – if you’re eligible, get boosted,” Murphy says.
Murphy’s office says 1.5 million New Jersey residents have received a booster shot.