Some New Jersey hospitals could receive batches of the new COVID-19 vaccines in a matter of days, Governor Phil Murphy said Friday.
The news for selected hospitals comes as the nation prepares for one of the most difficult and complex vaccine distribution campaigns in American history.
Six hospitals were selected, according to a report by NorthJersey.com: AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, Cooper University Hospital in Camden, Hackensack University Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and University Hospital in Newark.
There are currently two vaccinations on the way: one is Moderna and the other is Pfizer. Extinguishing Moderna requires only moderate cooling. But the Pfizer version has to be stored in extremely cold freezers, a complicated task that hospitals in New Jersey and across the country have built for.
Although the vaccines, which are part of Operation Warp Speed, have not yet been approved by the federal government, the New Jersey Department of Health said early deliveries will allow the facilities to be tested for operation.
“The purpose of pre-placement of the vaccine is to test delivery and storage systems and to support the federal government in speeding up initial delivery,” Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Health, said in a statement.
Hospitals will only start giving vaccines after the FDA has issued an emergency permit.
“He doesn’t allow vaccination,” Leusner said of the first shipments. “Sites where a pre-vaccinated vaccine is used can only use the vaccine if they have been approved by the federal and state governments.”
Morristown Medical Center – operated by Atlantic Health – declined to comment on the selected person. However, the spokesman said Atlantic Health began preparing for the expected approval of the COVID-19 vaccine months ago and has already purchased super-cold freezers capable of storing thousands of doses at all of its facilities.
“We are working around the clock to ensure we are ready as soon as vaccines receive their Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and final transport and distribution plans are announced,” said Luke Margolis, spokesman for Atlantic Health System.
A reporter asked Murphy on Friday to confirm the list of hospitals receiving the vaccine.
Raising his arms and then scratching his chin, Murphy said, “I don’t know where the hospitals are,” how it got there. And I made a decision before I came here to refer to the first delivery number, but no – I’m not going to comment on hospitals.
Hospitals are already prepared for the complicated vaccination process.
“It is very important to understand that vaccination efforts are very delicate, and the delivery (and final administration) of these vaccines is a matter of public safety and indeed national security,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, University Hospital.
Nornahal refused to say whether the University was indeed chosen as one of the hospitals to receive the vaccines. But he said the hospital has been working closely with the State Department of Health for several weeks on planning and logistics.
There will be a large, designated place within the university exclusively for vaccination – essentially “lanes that work like conveyor belts,” Elnahal said.
“It allows us to vaccinate as many people as possible during the day,” he said. “It’s important for us to get people who are willing to vaccinate this vaccine as soon as possible when we get the starting dose of the vaccine so we can create room for even more vaccinations that will come soon.”
Once approved, the vaccines will eventually go “to our healthcare workers and eventually to our community,” he said.
But the obstacles go beyond logistics. In addition to the huge efforts to develop and distribute vaccines, there is a huge public relations campaign to strengthen public safety. According to a recent internal survey by the University Hospital, 50% of employees hesitated to take the vaccine.
The State Department of Health said it would vaccinate 70% of non-pregnant adults within six months of the vaccine becoming available, noting that “it also depends on how many vaccines the federal government manufactured and made available in April and May. . “
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Spencer Kent is available at: [email protected].