Doctor Joseph Duffy lifted the sleeve of his t-shirt and exposed his left arm to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center on Friday morning.
Duffy was quickly jabbed with a needle by a nurse. He received the first of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. He will receive the second dose in 21 days.
How did he feel after receiving the vaccine? “Fantastic. Protected,” replied Duffy.
Duffy is the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Paterson.
“I do this to show the confidence we have in the vaccine,” said Duffy, chief medical officer at the hospital. He is setting an example for his colleagues at the hospital, who are expected to be inoculated over the next weeks.
While Duffy was being vaccinated in Paterson, St. Joseph’s in Wayne simultaneously began to vaccinate its employees.
“This is historic for us. It’s the day we have been waiting for for at least 10 months,” said Kevin Slavin, president and chief executive officer at St. Joseph’s Health. He spoke to employees in Paterson in-person and employees in Wayne via video conference. “We will deal with our employees first and then open up to the rest of the community.”
“You are the heroes,” congressman Bill Pascrell told the hospital staff, who have been battling the virus since March.
St. Joseph’s University Medical Center received three boxes of vaccines via FedEx on Thursday. Two boxes for Paterson and one box for the Wayne campus. Each box contained 975 vaccines, said Judy Padula, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at St. Joseph’s Health.
Padula said of the 5,000 employees, the hospital will focus on employees in the “patient facing areas.” Hospital employees will be vaccinated in a staggered schedule. She is also expected to get vaccinated today. She and other high-ranking medical officials at the hospital want to avoid any vaccine hesitancy among their staff.
“People are a little nervous. We feel it’s safe,” said Padula. “This is the light at the end of the tunnel.”
St. Joseph’s requires staff to get the flu vaccine every year, but the Covid-19 vaccine, because it’s so new, has not been made a requirement.
Slavin said the hospital will vaccinate up to 500 people per day.
Healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities are in the first phase (Phase 1a) of the three-phase vacation program outlined by the federal government. Essential workers such as firefighters and police are part of Phase 1b, and adults with high-risk medical conditions and senior citizens, age 65 and over, are in Phase 1c.
“This represents a small victory, but we did lose too many people. So, it is a bittersweet moment,” said mayor Andre Sayegh. Paterson has lost 370 people to Covid-19. He said the municipal government has a plan to vaccinate the community.
Sayegh said municipal health officials expect to use International High School as the main location to vaccinate residents. School officials said the district’s nurses will play a role in administering the vaccines to residents.
“This is for everyone,” said Slavin speaking of the vaccine. Duffy estimated the vaccine will be available for the public in one month.
Hospital staff monitored Duffy for any adverse reaction to the vaccine after he got his shot.
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