Following weeks of preparation, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, 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 7 am and employees were welcomed with cheers of support from the administrative team and hospital staff.
“Based off of my experience, seeing the destruction and devastation of the virus, I think people should be afraid of getting COVID, not the vaccine,” says Victoria Bradeis, a respiratory therapist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton. Bradeis was one of the first hospital team members to receive the first dose of the vaccine.
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 also to fighting the spread of the disease, protecting its team members and ending the pandemic. With the opening of its employee vaccine clinic today, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton 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.
Receiving the vaccine is important to many of the hospital’s staff. “Our team has worked so hard through this pandemic and they continue to provide the best care to all of our patients. This vaccine brings them a new measure of protection for themselves, their loved ones and our patients,” says Richard Freeman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton.
In support of the hospital staff, Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried said, “This is a monumental day, not just for RWJUH Hamilton and its great team healthcare professionals, but for all of us. This is the light guiding us to the tunnel that will hopefully take us out of this pandemic. We still must remain vigilant until everyone has access to these vaccines, but we are so appreciative to all the scientists and researchers across the world that have made this historic vaccination rollout possible.”
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).