Following weeks of preparation, Clara Maass Medical Center, an affiliate of RWJBarnabas Health, began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to its high-risk, frontline employees and member of the medical staff today.
The hospital opened its COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at 8:00 AM today with an official ribbon cutting ceremony. The medical staff and employees were welcomed with cheers of support from a small group of administrators that included Mary Ellen Clyne, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas A. Biga, President, Hospital Division of RWJBH, Andrea Barbier, D.O., President of the Medical Staff and Robert Gaccione, Esq., of Gaccione & Pomaco, P.C. who also serves as the Chairman of the Medical Center’s Board of Trustees.
“Throughout the entire pandemic, our frontline ‘sheroes’ and heroes have done a yeoman’s job in caring for patients through an unprecedented period of time and in preparing for this day in which a solution has now become available” said Mary Ellen Clyne, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Clara Maass Medical Center.
Clyne, who is also a registered nurse volunteered to observe employees and physicians that received the vaccine today; the medical staff and employees who received the vaccine were observed for 15-minutes with monitoring for any potential adverse reaction.
The first employee of the Medical Center who volunteered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was Tanya Howard, a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Clara Maass Medical Center.
“I made the decision to be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to protect myself and my family, and to help bring an end the awful pandemic that has affected the entire country. As a nurse who has worked along the front lines over the last ten months caring for patients that I knew would never recover from COVID-19, the vaccine represents a promising moment in time for our community and the entire world.”
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, Clara Maass Medical Center has become 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.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 11, 2020. 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).