Officials say ‘end’ of pandemic is near as state receives COVID-19 vaccine
Thousands of doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in New Jersey. The state will start its mass vaccination effort for health care workers on Tuesday.
“We are now in the opening scenes of the end of this pandemic,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Monday.
Health care workers at New Jersey hospitals will be among the first people in the state to receive the vaccine.
“Tomorrow we will witness a moment in history when the first COVID-19 vaccine is administered in our state,” Persichilli said. “We can begin to feel more optimistic that the end is coming. But we still have a tough winter ahead of us.”
Health care workers at University Hospital in Newark will be the first to receive the vaccine.
“There will be three batches of Pfizer vaccine in December. Of the 76,050 doses that we are getting today and tomorrow, about 20,000 will go to long-term care facilities and the remaining 54,000 to hospitals,” the health commissioner said.
The state's hospitals will serve as the distribution centers in the first round of vaccinations. Fifty-three hospitals will get doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. The remaining 18 will receive Moderna doses after that vaccine receives approval, possibly as early as Thursday.
“The vaccine availability is going up meaningfully over the next six weeks, with each week from each of these providers,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
But even with thousands of doses of the vaccine arriving, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it could be March or April before Americans without underlying conditions could be able to receive the vaccine. Officials say the next six to eight weeks could be a dark time, but there's the possibility of some relief afterward.
“I’m not suggesting that Feb. 1 is nirvana by any means. I don’t want to misread that. But we get through the next six weeks, we’re going to, I believe, have the worst behind us,” Murphy said.
The governor’s office says that Murphy will not receive the vaccine on Tuesday. It was unclear when the governor will be vaccinated.