Mildred Clements - who just turned 103 on December 24 - became the first long term care resident in New Jersey to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge, Middlesex County.
Meanwhile, nurse Esther Moodey became the first staff member to be vaccinated in the kick-off to a statewide effort to vaccinate the vulnerable, in partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
"CVS has already coordinated and scheduled visits to 277 long term care centers across the state over the next six weeks to provide roughly 80,000 vaccinations," said Gov. Phil Murphy during Monday's COVID-19 briefing in Trenton.
In Burlington County, the vaccination of EMS personnel began Monday morning in Westampton Township. Members of Evesham Fire-Rescue pulled in to receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Evesham Fire-Rescue Chief Carl Bittenbender just received his first dose of COVID vaccine in Westampton. “We encounter people who are COVID positive every day,” he said, stressing the importance of first responders getting vaccinated. @6abc pic.twitter.com/g6cLdjImyL— Trish Hartman (@TrishHartman) December 28, 2020
"We're going into people's houses and not knowing exactly what we're going into," said Lt. Ryan Brinker of Evesham Fire-Rescue. "We've taken every precaution we can but this is definitely a step in the right direction."
Ambulance drivers, paramedics and school nurses are included in this phase. County health officials say right now they have enough to vaccinate 1,000 first responders.
"It is a high-risk occupation with high rates of exposure and so our role is to make sure they get vaccinated as soon as we can get that accomplished," said Burlington County Health Director Dr. Herb Conaway.
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New Jersey has announced six locations that will serve as "mega-sites" for vaccinations once more doses are available. Officials have said those will open in January but haven't announced a date.
State officials say the next phase - 1B - will include essential workers and those over the age of 75.