The first Moderna vaccine administered at Bayonne Medical Center on Dec. 22 marked the beginning of Phase 1A.
Phase 1 is for frontline workers and at-risk residents. Phase 1A includes hospital workers, paramedics, and long-term acute care workers and residents. Phase 1B includes office-based medical practices, police officers, firefighters, other frontline essential workers, and vulnerable members of the community. Phase 1C includes all other essential workers.
Bayonne Medical Center’s Chief Hospital Executive Dr. Vijay Singh said that vaccinating all frontline workers at the hospital will take two to three weeks. The general population will receive the vaccine as part of Phase 2.
An open point of distribution
For Phase 2, Bayonne Medical Center will work with the city and local Department of Health to become a center for vaccinating community members.
The hospital will be one of many sites in Bayonne that will distribute the vaccine. Singh estimates that community members will begin to receive the vaccine around the first week of February.
Currently, Bayonne Medical Center has only a limited number of doses. But Singh said that vaccine production is ramping up, and additional doses will be ready by the time Phase 1 ends.
“I think by March we will start seeing a surge of the community to get vaccinated because after three months they will hear things are going well,” Singh said.
Laying out the facts
Singh explained how the vaccine works during a weekly COVID-19 video update with Mayor James Davis in December.
The vaccine is a messenger RNA vaccine, which means it does not contain live virus or carry any risk of causing disease in a vaccinated person.
Singh said that the vaccine is administered in two doses. The first shot helps the immune system recognize the virus. The second shot strengthens the immune system and its response to the virus. According to Singh, both shots are needed for the best protection.
Like other vaccines, the Moderna vaccine was tested on tens of thousands of people to ensure its safety and effectiveness in adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. Singh said there are no serious safety concerns and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will monitor the vaccines as they are distributed.
Singh said the CDC recommends getting vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19 because you can catch the virus multiple times. Antibodies may provide short-term protection after recovering, but it is unknown how long that protection will last. Getting vaccinated is especially important for those with pre-existing conditions because they are more prone to catching the virus.
Post-vaccination, life will not be any different. Singh said that mask wearing, social distancing, and other precautions will be necessary until at least mid 2022.
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