The state was about a week behind others in getting vaccines for those living and working in long-term care facilities. But on Monday hundreds got the shot in the arm they’ve been waiting for, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported.
As a baby, Mildred Clements survived the flu pandemic of 1918. On Monday, at 103 years old, Clements was vaccinated for COVID-19.
“She survived infancy through the flu pandemic a century ago and today she represents the resiliency and fighting spirit of New Jersey,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.
— John Dias (@JohnBDias) December 28, 2020
Clements and her neighbors at Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge were among the first long-term care residents in the state to get the first dose of the vaccine.
Esther Moodey, a registered nurse, was the first staff member to get it.
“I felt normal, excited, to receive it. But it was beautiful, and I’m glad I got it,” Moodey said. “The vaccine brings hope, and optimism about the future and promise for a new normal.”
Seniors at Brighton Gardens of Edison were also among the first to get the vaccine.
“I like to think that this isn’t only for me. It’s for a lot of people. And it made me very happy,” said resident Robert Carbone.
At Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, one could see the smiles on frontline heroes’ faces – even with masks on – while they got their shots.
“Being on the Ambulance Corps and having older parents still to take care of, I thought I needed to come sooner rather than later. And I’m really glad I did,” said Janet Dunn.
Over the next month, residents and staff at about 90 New Jersey nursing homes will receive the first of two doses, CBS2’s John Dias reported.
Watch John Dias’s report:
The plan is already making major progress.
“Almost 300 facilities have already been scheduled with our partnership with CVS,” said N.J. Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
The virus has had a devastating effect on New Jersey nursing homes. Nearly 40% of the state’s coronavirus deaths are associated with them.
“Virus continues to enter our facilities with over 400 reporting outbreaks,” Persichilli said.
Murphy said the delay was due to “paperwork” and finalizing with Washington an exact number of allocations.
Monday, he said their application was more extensive than any other American state.
WATCH: 1st COVID Vaccinations At Roosevelt Care Center In Old Bridge, N.J.
“We were going to reach out to a much more broader set of communities in our state, not just traditional long term cares and nursing homes, but to include homes for developmentally disabled and others,” he said.
Frontline health care workers, along with long-term care residents and staff, are the first to have access to the vaccine.
“Just means the ability to get back to normal, and be able to not have to worry about bringing this home to my family,” said Jeff Kaplan, a Fort Lee EMS worker.
Next in line for the vaccine are frontline essential workers and people 75 and older. There’s no timeline yet for when those groups can get vaccinated.
“Hold tight… we think the general public, every one of us, could have access to this vaccine by April or May,” Murphy said.
Elderly residents who don’t live in long-term care facilities are wondering what they should be doing in the meantime.
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Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said to wait a few week. By then, we should know more.
“But at the end of the day, patience really is going to pay off for everybody,” Tedesco said. “As soon as we get the vaccines, we’ll get it in their arms.”
For now, frontline workers told CBS2 they believe this is the beginning of getting back to normal. But they also reminded us we’re not there yet.
“Please wear a mask. Please social distance. If you can, stay home,” said Kaplan.
Shortly after New Year’s, the state plans to open six mega vaccination sites. The goal is to get 70% of the adult population vaccinated in the next six months.
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CBS2’s John Dias and Nick Caloway contributed to this report.