The Hudson County Vaccine Task Force, overseen by Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and the Hudson Regional Health Commission, officially began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination program.
Kathy Gerbasio, a Secaucus High School nurse who has tested thousands of individuals since March at Hudson County’s COVID-19 testing site at Hudson Regional Hospital, was the first person to receive the Moderna vaccine at the site.
She was accompanied by her husband at Hudson County’s Vaccine Distribution Center, at the USS Juneau Center Office of Emergency Management in Kearny.
“The Hudson County Vaccine Task Force has worked tirelessly to ready ourselves for the long-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine,” said DeGise. “This has been a long time coming, and there is no more appropriate way to thank our frontline heroes for all they have done than by providing them with this lifesaving vaccine that has been so eagerly anticipated. Hudson County will continue to execute an aggressive testing program at Hudson Regional Hospital and by working collaboratively with our local leaders and stakeholder, rest assured we will not step down from this fight until every resident has the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
Hudson County received its first 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine on the morning of Dec. 23 and vaccinated dozens of individuals that same afternoon.
Hudson County Deputy Administrator David Drumeler, Hudson Regional Health Commission Executive Director Carrie Nawrocki, Freeholder Anthony Romano, Hudson County Improvement Authority CEO Norman Guerra, and staff of the facility were all present for the first round of vaccinations.
Gary Garetano, Hudson Regional Health Commission’s Vaccine Coordinator, administered Nurse Gerbasio her vaccine.
Gov. Phil Murphy praised Hudson County for beginning its vaccine distribution program.
“Hudson County has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 since the very beginning,” Murphy said. “As one of the densest areas in the densest state in the country, Hudson County and its leadership understand that an effective local vaccination program is imperative to public health in the state as a whole. Under the leadership of County Executive DeGise, the Hudson Regional Health Commission, and countless public health officials, Hudson County’s COVID-19 vaccination site will open today and begin to provide lifesaving vaccines to frontline health workers. I am thankful for their efforts, and especially proud that the first vaccine recipient will be a school nurse.”
Who goes first
Under the state’s vaccination plan, currently, vaccines are available to those in Category 1A, which includes paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients and long-term care residents and staff.
Once vaccine availability expands, essential workers, which fall into Category 1B such as first responders, food service workers, teachers and school staff, transit workers, and news and media workers will be able to get vaccinated.
The next category of individuals, Category 1C, are those who are considered at “high-risk” of contracting COVID-19 such as adults age 65 and over and adults with underlying medical conditions.
After these phases are complete, the general public will be eligible for vaccination, according to the state which has a goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population – or 4.7 million adults – within six months.
Since the start of the pandemic, Hudson County has had 42,444 residents test positive for the virus and 1,516 die due to COVID-19, according to the state’s data as of Dec. 27.
Hudson County reported 239 new positive cases as of Dec. 27, the second-highest in the state following Ocean County with 241 new positive cases.
Individuals who qualify to be vaccinated during Phase 1A should contact the Hudson Regional Health Commission to schedule an appointment at the Hudson County’s Vaccine Distribution Center, at the USS Juneau Center Office of Emergency Management at 110 Hackensack Avenue in Kearny.
The Hudson Regional Health Commission can be reached at (201) 223-1133.
To find a COVID-19 testing site near you go to https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing#test-sites.
To find more information on the vaccine, go to https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/covid2019_vaccination.shtml