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UPDATE: NJ Hospitals Await First Batch Of COVID-19 Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccines must be kept in a special storage freezer.
The COVID-19 vaccines must be kept in a special storage freezer. Photo Credit: CBS2 New York

NOTE: A spokeswoman for Hackensack University Medical Center said Friday that the hospital hadn't yet received the initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines. "We do NOT have any vaccine at this point nor does anyone else in NJ," said the spokeswoman, Mary Jo Layton.

This corrects a previous story published here following what staffers said was a notification that initial shipments of the vaccines had arrived and will continue to do so.

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HUMC was expected to be among the first hospitals in New Jersey to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Officials couldn’t provide an exact number, although they did say that a special minus-70-degree storage freezer could hold about 4,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

HUMC reportedly was one of six hospitals in New Jersey expected to get the initial doses.

HUMC President Mark Sparta said the arrival of the first round, when it comes, "certainly gives us a sense of relief [and] security," amid what has become a second wave of COVID infections.

“It’s important to realize that it’s a two-dose vaccine, and we’ll have to have the second dose 21 days after the first dose,” Sparta told CBS2 New York. “We won’t really begin to see the immunity for 8-10 weeks after the second dose. So it’s going to be a process.”

SEE: COVID Vaccine: Hackensack University Medical Center Getting Ready To Receive First Doses

Officials were prioritizing which team members most at risk would receive the first doses when vaccinations begin.

Vaccinations were expected within the next month for roughly 600,000 health care workers directly exposed to patients who are or could be infected by the virus statewide, including hospital staffs, home health aides and EMS workers, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has said.

Also at the front of the line will be 45,000 long-term care residents throughout the state, she said.

Immediately after them will be essential workers – police, firefighters, teachers, corrections officers, among them – over the following month, beginning in mid-January.

Citizens 65 and older, as well as adults with high-risk medical conditions, would be vaccinated in February and March, with all others beginning sometime in the spring, Gov. Murphy has said.

By that point, vaccinations should be done at county and local health departments, doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics and pharmacies by appointment only, the governor said.

The doses themselves won’t cost anything. Private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid will pay for the labor, with no out-of-pocket costs. The federal government will pick up the tab for those who are uninsured.

Authorities have warned pregnant women and children under 18 not to get the vaccine because its safety and effectiveness for them hasn’t been fully researched.

Those with serious allergic reactions should wait, they added.

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