The first shipments of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine departed a manufacturing facility early Sunday morning -- and Gov. Phil Murphy has announced where the first doses in New Jersey will be administered.
Murphy says the first vaccines will be administered at University Hospital in Newark. He, alongside Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, will be at the hospital Tuesday morning for the first inoculations.
"We're gonna be putting shots in the arm Tuesday morning in Newark, this is coming. I think by April, May, everyone will have access to one of these vaccines," Murphy said on ABC's "This Week."
University Hospital's COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic has the capacity to conduct at least 600 vaccinations daily, the governor's office said. During Murphy's visit on Tuesday, a number of the hospital's "healthcare heroes" are expected to receive their first dose of the vaccine.
The governor said he believes that by April or May, everyone in the state will have access to one of the vaccines. He’s urging people not to relax efforts to stem the spread of the virus, especially limiting holiday celebrations to immediate family, since he said 60 to 80 percent of transmission is now occurring in private settings.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the vaccine Friday, saying it is highly protective and presents no major safety issues. While U.S. regulators worked for months to emphasize the rigor and independence of their review, they faced political pressure until the final stages.
Concerns that a shot was rushed out could undermine vaccination efforts in a country with deeply ingrained skepticism about vaccines. The head of the FDA said the agency’s decision was based on science, not politics, despite a White House threat to fire him if the vaccine wasn’t approved before Saturday.
New Jersey's health care workers and residents at long-term care facilities are expected to be the first groups to get the vaccine in the state.
Persichilli said the Garden State expects a first shipment of 76,000 doses to six hospitals that are “pre-positioned” so they can begin administering soon the vaccine's arrival.
“We do expect doses every week, and then by the second week we’ll have doses of both Pfizer and Moderna," Persichilli said Friday. Moderna will be reviewed by an expert panel next week and soon afterward could be allowed for public use.
Persichilli didn’t specify which hospitals they were, but the state’s approach to tracking hospitalizations from the vaccine has centered on northern, central and southern regions, suggesting the hospitals would be located around the state.
NorthJersey.com reports the other hospitals getting the first vaccine, in addition to University Hospital, are Hackensack University Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, and Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
Earlier this week, Gov. Murphy and Persichilli laid out the best- and worst-case scenarios as the state battles the pandemic. They projected a major strain on the state's hospitals by January if families gathered for December holidays and there were no change in compliance with mask mandates or guidance to avoid gatherings.
On Saturday, Murphy reported an addition 71 deaths and 6,247 new cases of the virus.