BY: ADIA ROBINSON, ABC NEWS
(NEW YORK) — New Jersey will begin giving its health care workers the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning at University Hospital in Newark, the state’s governor said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.
“The first batch is 76,000. Split the majority toward health care workers but a good slug toward our long-term care residents and staff, and then with each ensuing week those are the two top priorities,” Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., told “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
“It’ll take us a number of weeks as you can imagine to work through the entire populations in both of those groups, but it’s gonna be a big day on Tuesday morning in Newark,” he added.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. for emergency use Friday. The first shipments of the vaccine, produced by Pfizer and BioNTech shipped Sunday morning and are expected to arrive at 145 sites by Monday.
More than 16 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 297,800 people have died, according to data from John Hopkins University. As of early Sunday morning, more than 108,000 people were hospitalized.
Murphy said on Sunday that his state is still working through how it will prioritize who gets the vaccine after the first round of health care workers and long-term care residents.
“I think of it as in overlapping waves,” he said. “We’ll be doing, for instance, the second shot for health care workers, long-term care residents as we’re beginning first shots for the broader populations in that 1B group.”
The New Jersey governor pushed back on skepticism about the vaccine. A New Jersey Health Department Study from October said that fewer than half of nurses in the state would definitely or probably get vaccinated.
That number has gone up “meaningfully” among nurses and other health care workers, Murphy said Sunday.
“I think this confidence has been building around these two vaccines now pretty much on a drumbeat for weeks upon weeks,” he added.
When it comes to education about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, Murphy said they needed to respond both to people concerned about the safety of vaccines and those concerned about political pressure driving the approval process for this vaccine.
“We’ve already been pounding away that these are safe, they work, and that’s a message I’ll repeat right now,” he said. “We have had our medical folks kick the tires up and down. We believe in these vaccines. They’re safe, they work. We want people to get them.”
With cases on the rise in New Jersey, Murphy said that even with the vaccine coming, the next few weeks will be challenging and people should still adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“For all the good news, the light at the end of the tunnel, and the vaccine exemplifies that as much as anything, the next number of weeks are going to be hell, I fear,” he said. “So we’re begging people to please, please, please don’t let your guard down, even when you’re in private settings.”
“Celebrate holidays small, with your immediate family. We know that stinks, but, please God, that’s your down payment a more normal one next year,” Murphy added.
In New Jersey, more than 396,490 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 15,800 have died.
Six states each reported more than 10,000 new cases Saturday, including two of New Jersey’s neighbors, Pennsylvania and New York. Both Pennsylvania and New York City recently end indoor dining to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
New Jersey and six other states reported more than 5,000 new cases Friday.
When Raddatz asked if he worried that the promise of the vaccine would make people stop following social distancing guidelines, Murphy said he does.
“I take the other side of it which is, hey, listen, we’re going to be putting shots in the arm Tuesday morning in Newark, this is coming. And by the way, I think by April, May, everybody will have access to one of these vaccines,” he said. “And so therefore this is not forever and for always. It’s a short sprint. So do the right thing.”
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