NJ Nursing Homes to Begin Vaccinating Residents and Staff

Governor Phil Murphy bumps elbows with resident Charles Bianco before he was vaccinated at the Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge, N.J. December, 28, 2020, (Ed Murray/NJ Advance Media)

Ninety nursing homes in New Jersey began inoculating residents and staff members this Monday.

The first to be vaccinated were Mildred Clements, a resident of Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge, who is 103, and a nurse there, Esther Moodey.

“It is an understatement to say that this has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us in health care, on many levels,” said Moodey. “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.’”

Rosemary Connelly, 92, another resident, had not seen her daughter since March, when the pandemic began. Previously, her daughter visited her every day for two years. “I’m just happy to see my family soon,” she said. “It’s a very good shot. I recommend it to everyone.”

The vaccinations were cheered on by staff, healthcare workers, and the media.

“We’re starting a new road right now,” said Bentzy Davidowitz, an administrator of the nursing home, as he congratulated the residents.

The state is starting a week later than New York because state officials missed a federal deadline, Fox5 reported.

The Roosevelt Care Center where residents are the first to be vaccinated from Covid-19 at a long-term care facility in New Jersey on December 28, 2020 (Edwin J. Torres/ NJ Governor’s Office).

The vaccines are sorely needed: Of the roughly 18,ooo deaths from the coronavirus that took place in New Jersey, 7,000 came from assisted-living facilities.

As vaccination clinics are set up in locations throughout the state, the number is expected to increase. Pharmaceutical chains Walgreens and CVS, in conjunction with the federal government, will be setting up vaccination sites, similar to the programs both chains use yearly to distribute the annual flu vaccine.

New Jersey has allocated 500,000 Pfizer vaccines for 83,000 nursing home and group home residents across 291 facilities. The program is expected to continue through January and February in homes, while vaccination for health-care workers is ongoing.

“Long-term care facilities across New Jersey and the entire nation have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “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.”

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