COVID vaccine acceptance high among NJ hospital workers. Here's how many have gotten shots - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

COVID vaccine acceptance high among NJ hospital workers. Here’s how many have gotten shots

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By Lindy Washburn

January 11, 2021

Some cried tears of relief. Some murmured prayers of thanks for fallen co-workers and friends. Some avoided looking at the needle about to jab their arms, while others thanked the person vaccinating them. More than 150,000 New Jersey health care workers have received their first doses of the COVID vaccine and are starting their booster shots.

For hospitals, the first New Jersey institutions to inject the COVID vaccine into the arms of their employees, the rollout has been an emotional experience and a logistical challenge. They’ve engineered new websites, carved out space and redeployed staff.

“We’ve got a lot of people to vaccinate, and everybody is going as quickly as they can to vaccinate as many people as they can,” Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health’s CEO, said of the statewide effort. The state’s goal is to inoculate 70% of the adult population — 4.7 million people — by the end of June.

So far, more than 200,000 people have received shots during Phase 1A — the priority group for front-line health care workers whose jobs potentially expose them to COVID-19, as well as the staff and residents of long-term care facilities. A few law enforcement personnel in Phase 1B also got the shot Friday.

Vaccine acceptance among hospital workers has exceeded expectations. Coupled with the rush of 450,000 people to sign up on the state’s new registration portal in its first 24 hours, it may portend an eagerness that surveys had not suggested.

Last week, when vaccines at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center opened to non-hospital-based health care workers, the appointments quickly filled and police had to direct traffic for those arriving as scheduled.

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Now, as the vaccine effort expands to a widening circle of the state’s 650,000 health care workers, and to the law enforcement officers and firefighters of the next phase, and eventually those 75 years old and older, the hospitals’ smooth but labor-intensive experience may offer some insights into what to expect.

“It’s not a simple logistical effort,” said Dr. Stephen Brunnquell, president of the physician network at Englewood Health. “It’s a lot different than a flu shot.”

The consent forms, record-keeping and social distancing required, not to mention storage, preparation and handling of the vaccine, are more difficult for the COVID vaccine.

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