NJ's first COVID-19 vaccine doses given Tuesday in Newark

Healthcare workers in New Jersey received the state's first doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine Tuesday morning. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was in attendance at University Hospital in Newark for a day he says was "worth celebrating."

Maritza Beniquez, a registered nurse in University Hospital's emergency department was the first to receive the vaccine. Beniquez was also celebrating a birthday Tuesday. 

“This is a day that we have been waiting nearly a year for, and while we know this isn’t the end, we are witnessing, at the least, a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel,” said Governor Murphy. “Without question, we are still in for several hard months and we are going to face stiff headwinds from this second wave, but now our heroic frontline health care workers can begin to take care of their fellow New Jerseyans with a higher degree of confidence in their own protection.” 

State officials say the first 76,000 vaccines will be given to healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff.

Cooper University Health Care announced they will be in the first group of New Jersey hospitals receiving the vaccine. Officials with the hospital said staff member will begin to be vaccinated Tuesday. 

In a tweet early Saturday, Gov. Murphy wrote that he would be visiting the University Hospital of Newark alongside Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the hospital's CEO and president, and Dean Johnson of the Rutgers Medical School. 

Anticipating the pending shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, University Hospital had created a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. 

Officials say the clinic, which is appropriately staffed to meet guidelines, has the potential daily capacity of at least 600 vaccinations.

New Jersey is expected to get three shipments of the Pfizer vaccine this month, beginning with about 76,000 doses this week and another 86,000 next week. 

The state could get about 150,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by next week if it's approved by the FDA.

MORE: As neighboring states tighten COVID-19 orders, NJ stands pat

New Jersey, like the rest of the country, has seen a resurgence of the virus, with daily caseloads climbing above their highest points in the spring. The rolling weekly average has also ticked up steadily.

Health officials reported a daily rise of 6,247 positives cases, which marked the highest total since the onset of the pandemic. Deaths also increased to include more than 15,800 residents.

Murphy on Friday called out 10 bars and restaurants at risk of having their liquor licenses suspended because they failed to follow coronavirus guidelines.

“Let these charges send a perfectly clear signal to any bar or restaurant owner who thinks this won’t happen to you,” he said, adding that most proprietors were following the guidelines.

Bars and restaurants are limited to 25 percent capacity indoors and must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. under executive orders Murphy has signed.


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