Following weeks of preparation, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, began administering the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine to its high-risk, frontline employees today. The hospital opened its employee vaccine clinic at 6:00 a.m. this morning and employees were welcomed with cheers of support from the administrative and volunteer staff.

Vatesse Pleasant, RN, 40 years-old, was the first Newark Beth Israel employee to receive the vaccine. “I’m excited to be able to visit my granddaughter again,” said Vatesse, who has been working with critically ill COVID-19 patients since July when she started working at Newark Beth Israel.

RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) has been working diligently with the state to support the New Jersey Department of Health’s ambitious vaccination plan to get 70 percent of the state’s adult population vaccinated in six months. As the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Heath is committed to treating and saving the lives of patients with COVID-19, and to fighting the spread of the disease, protecting its team members and ending the pandemic. With the opening of its employee vaccine clinic today, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey is proud to be an integral part of the national and New Jersey COVID-19 vaccination effort. Public health officials and medical experts believe vaccination is an important step in helping to prevent or lessen the effect of COVID-19 and its potentially devastating consequences.

“By offering this vaccine to our staff, we are providing them with additional piece of mind. Our clinical teams can provide critical care at the bedside without the fear of contracting COVID-19 and bringing it back to their families,” said Amy Doran, RN, MSN, APN-c, Chief Nursing Officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

“Our employees are overjoyed to have access to this vaccine. It is a proven and effective deterrent to this infection and we can all rest easy knowing that we now have a vaccine that can adequately protect us against this virus,” said Matthew Schreiber, MD, Chief Operating Officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

.The Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 11, 2020. Vaccine safety and efficacy for Pfizer’s vaccine has been issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. FDA authorization of a vaccine means the agency has determined, based on substantial evidence and a stringent review process, that the vaccine is safe and effective for its intended use. The vaccine has been shown to be 95 percent effective and requires two doses received 21 days apart. The vaccine is voluntary for employees and medical staff and is being offered free of charge.

Due to limited supply, the vaccine is being given in phases based on prioritization order. The prioritization order for RWJBarnabas Health staff is determined by the risk of contracting COVID-19 from exposures while at work, primarily by job setting. RWJBarnabas Health facilities expect to vaccinate staff over a 6-week period (weeks 1-3 first dose; weeks 4-6 second dose).

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