New Jersey coronavirus update: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine distribution begins

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Two healthcare workers at Hoboken University Medical Center in New Jersey became the first hospital employees to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning.

Dr. John Rimmer, of the Emergency Department, and Dinorah Vargas, who works in the intensive care unit, received their first dose of the vaccine.

Dr. Rimmer says he understands the public skepticism about getting the shots, but that the science behind the vaccine is good and it may prevent future spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise offered a tour of Hudson County's first Vaccine Distribution Center, which is expected open later this week.

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The massive USS Juneau Memorial Center has been transformed into a drive-up facility that will be used to vaccinate healthcare workers.

Those eligible include doctors and nurses within private practices, dentists, hygienists, community and public health workers, funeral directors, paid and unpaid EMTs, and those working in labs with infectious material.

Patients will have to pre-register online, once they receive the vaccine, they will wait in their vehicles just outside the center in case there are any adverse reactions.

The hope is to expand the operation as more vaccines become available.

On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy extended the public health emergency in New Jersey for an additional 30 days.

"Given where we are currently, we must remain in a proper footing to continue responding to this pandemic," he said.

The state on Tuesday reported 4,686 new cases and 104 new deaths, marking its first day over 100 coronavirus fatalities since June 3.

Murphy reiterated that this is the year for a small Christmas with only those in an immediate family bubble.

"If you insist on a big gathering this year, you're taking a real risk that when next Christmas comes, there will be fewer loved ones gathered around your tree," he said. "This is not the year for Christmas-as-usual or New Year's Eve-as-usual. Please do not hold a large, indoor family Christmas gathering or indoor New Year's Eve party. We cannot take the risk of these celebrations leading to a spike in new cases and hospitalizations."

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