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December 28, 2020

103-year-old woman first to receive COVID-19 vaccine in N.J. nursing homes

Pennsylvania also is to begin immunizations this week at 126 long-term care facilities

Senior Health Coronavirus
NJ nursing home vaccines Edwin J. Torres/New Jersey Office of the Governor

Mildred Clements, 103, becomes New Jersey's first long-term care resident to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mildred Clements, a 103-year-old woman who was a toddler during the Spanish flu pandemic, received the first COVID-19 vaccine administered to a New Jersey nursing home resident Monday morning. 

Clements was given the shot shortly after 9 a.m. at Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge in Middlesex County as Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli watched. 

Esther Moodey then became the state's first nursing home staffer to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

"It is an understatement to say that this has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us in health care, on many levels," Moodey said. "I am thankful for the COVID-19 vaccine and honored to be the first staff member at our facility to receive it, in solidarity with my colleagues in other long term care facilities around New Jersey. The vaccine brings hope and optimism about the future and promise of a return to normal."

Walgreens and CVS Health are administering doses at New Jersey's long-term care facilities as part of Operation Warp Speed. They also are set to begin immunizations this week in Pennsylvania. 

"Long-term care facilities across New Jersey and the entire nation have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic," Murphy said. "Over the past nine months, we have paid an incredible cost, but today is another positive step forward in our fight against this virus."

The video below shows Clements and Moodey – and four others – receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. 

A total of 291 long-term care facilities in New Jersey are scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccinations through the start of February, covering roughly 83,000 residents and staff.

The state already has deployed roughly 55,000 doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine to nursing homes, and an additional 28,000 shots will become available over the next two weeks.

"With the start of this large-scale vaccination effort today, we are continuing to strengthen protections for our most vulnerable populations, along with the staff who have been truly courageous in caring for them," Persichilli said.

More long-term care facilities are expected to be added in the coming weeks, as the state hopes to inoculate roughly 125,000 residents and staff through the federal program. That will require 250,000 doses because both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines each require two shots. 

In Pennsylvania, 126 long-term care facilities are expected to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine this week, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. The names of those facilities are expected to be released in the coming days. 

CVS Health and Walgreens will make three visits to each nursing home to ensure that residents and staff receive their initial shots and boosters. Pfizer's vaccine requires two doses given 21 days apart. Moderna's second dose must be administered 28 days later. 

Both companies were selected to handle the vaccine rollout in long-term care facilities by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The program is free of charge to long-term care facilities. Neither residents nor staff will incur any out-of-pocket costs.

New Jersey reported 2,745 new coronavirus infections Monday, increasing the statewide total to 463,965 since the pandemic started in March. There have been 16,706 lab-confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania recorded 3,779 additional cases, bringing the statewide total to 613,804. The death toll is 15,086.

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