Physicians and employees who handle COVID-19 cases or have a high level of patient interaction at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick have begun receiving Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.
The hospital said in a Dec. 22 statement that all employees and doctors who want the shot eventually will be able to get it.
“This is a moment we’ve long anticipated,” said Leslie Hirsch, Saint Peter’s president and CEO. “For the past nine months, our dedicated and selfless healthcare heroes have been working on the frontlines, committed to saving lives while often risking their own. We are fortunate to be one of the first recipients of the Moderna vaccine, one which has been shown to be 94% effective in preventing COVID-19.”
Saint Peter’s said that in administering the vaccine, the hospital is following the recommendations of the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with that of other health agencies at the federal and state level. Because of the limited supply, a task force led by Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Linda Carroll will set the priorities for which staff members would get the vaccine first.
While Hirsch hailed the arrival of the vaccine, he cautioned the public to remain vigilant in helping to curb the spread of the virus. “We need to remind people that while the vaccine is expected to prevent disease or decrease its severity, we cannot say for certain that a vaccinated individual can no longer transmit the disease,” he said. “Therefore, it is prudent, especially during the impending holiday season, that we all continue to wear our face coverings, practice social distancing and engage in proper handwashing protocol.”
The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart. On Dec. 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization allowing the vaccine to be distributed throughout the country.
In New Jersey, hospitals began rolling out the first vaccine to receive federal approval, a shot developed by Pfizer and BioNtech, on Dec. 14. The next day, Martiza Beniquez, an emergency room nurse at University Hospital in Newark, became the first New Jerseyan to receive the vaccine.