N.J. vaccine rollout to begin Tuesday at University Hospital in Newark

The first person in New Jersey to be administered Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will get it Tuesday morning at University Hospital in Newark, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Sunday.

Murphy, appearing on ABC’s Sunday morning talk shows, said he’ll be there to witness the event.

“I’m happy to say that, and I’ll be there Tuesday morning at University Hospital in Newark,” he said. “We will begin vaccinating our heroic health care workers.”

The details of the rollout in the first week are not entirely clear. Various hospitals across the state are expected to get portions of the 76,000 doses. When they will get them — and how many can be administered in a single day remains to be seen.

Also unclear is when the general public will be able to get the vaccine. Murphy, on Sunday, estimated that day may not come until April or May.

University Hospital, in anticipation of the pending shipment of the vaccine from Pfizer, has created a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, adjacent to the University Hospital campus in Newark.

State officials said it will be staffed and structured in accordance with guidance provided by state and federal health officials — and that the clinic will have the potential daily capacity of at least 600 vaccinations.

Murphy and Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli will visit the facility Monday morning, when they will tour the clinic with University Hospital CEO Shereef Elnahal — a former state health commissioner under Murphy — and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Dean Robert Johnson.

Murphy said health care workers and those in long-term care facilities will get the first doses, but it was unclear which groups will follow. Teachers, child care workers, those with underlying conditions and seniors are all thought to be top priorities.

Murphy, on Sunday morning, said the state is still working through the order.

“I think every state is doing the same, working with the CDC federal guidance,” he said. “The so-called 1A bucket, our health care workers and long-term care, and then 1B is a much larger group — every one of them a worthy population of getting (vaccinated) early.”

The good news, Murphy said, is that the Moderna vaccine is expected to get approval this week — which will add to the speed with which people can be vaccinated.

“Moderna is up for their emergency use authorization this week, and God willing they get it, then you’ve got not only increasing batches from Pfizer, you’ve then got a second vaccine, coming online with shipments each week — and those larger populations will then be dealt with,” he said.

Murphy said vaccinations will come in overlapping waves. Remember, both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine requires two doses.

“We’ll be doing, for instance, the second shot for health care workers and long-term care residents as we’re beginning first shots for the broader populations in that one big group,” he said.

Murphy said residents need to be patient for what he calls a short sprint.

“It’ll take us a number of weeks, as you could imagine, to work through the entire populations in both of those groups (health care workers and people in long-term facilities),” he said. “But it’s going to be a big day on Tuesday morning in Newark.”