Governor Phil Murphy, joined by New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and CVS Health Regional Director Kat Kingston, Monday visited Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge to mark the launch of the state's vaccination effort of residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
103-year-old Mildred Clements, a Newark native and current resident of the Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge, become the first long-term care resident in the state to be vaccinated in New Jersey.
Mildred, who has now live through two pandemics, received her shot to a round of applause.
She was followed by nurse Esther Moodey, the state's first nursing home staff member to receive the vaccine.
"It is an understatement to say that this has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us in healthcare, on many levels," Moodey said. "I am thankful for the COVID-19 vaccine and honored to be the first staff member at our facility receive it, in solidarity with my colleagues in other long term care facilities around New Jersey. The vaccine brings hope and optimism about the future and promise of a return to 'normal.'"
Nursing home residents and staff members at about 90 locations across New Jersey will begin receiving coronavirus vaccinations Monday.
Officials say the vaccinations are being administered pursuant to the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), CVS, and Walgreens to facilitate on-site COVID-19 vaccination services.
Through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, New Jersey already has 291 long-term care facilities scheduled and over 83,000 residents and staff slated to receive vaccinations through the beginning of February 2021, with more sites to be added in the coming weeks.
"Long-term care facilities across New Jersey and the entire nation have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic," Murphy said. "Over the past nine months, we have paid an incredible cost, but today is another positive step forward in our fight against this virus. New Jersey's comprehensive and inclusive vaccination plan prioritizes individuals living in high-risk, congregate settings, such as nursing homes, Veterans Homes, and assisted living residences. We are incredibly grateful to CVS and Walgreens for their work with the Federal Pharmacy Partnership program to ensure that we have the resources to vaccinate and protect our most vulnerable populations."
Throughout the pandemic, residents and staff of the state's long-term care facilities have been among the most severely impacted.
"With the start of this large-scale vaccination effort today, we are continuing to strengthen protections for our most vulnerable populations, along with the staff who have been truly courageous in caring for them," Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said
However, the vaccinations are happening a week late after the state missed a federal paperwork deadline.
Persichilli gave a number of explanations for the delay. One was a confusion about just how many doses the state would be getting from the federal government, adding computer systems at some facilities were outdated as they tried to compile information about who would get the drugs.
Murphy says they didn't want to submit an incomplete plan.
"Our overall vaccination plan for individuals living in high-risk, congregate settings is comprehensive and inclusive, and it goes far beyond the plans for serving just nursing homes that other states have," Murphy said. "No state right now in America other than New Jersey is as prepared to vaccinate these highly vulnerable residents."
Over the weekend, a doctor at Essex County Hospital was the first in Newark to get the Moderna vaccine -- that's the second one approved by the FDA.
The same vaccine will start going out in Paterson on Monday to long-term care residents and staff as well as hospital workers.
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