Gov. Phil Murphy (D) joined state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and other dignitaries, as seniors were among the first in the state to receive Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations this morning.
“We witnessed Anna Marie [Flores] and five other folks get … among the first Johnson & Johnson vaccines and it was a moment of magic,” the governor said outside of the Union Plaza Apartments in Union City.
“We cannot possibly overstate how much this vaccine is a game changer in our fight to protect residents, to save lives, and to defeat this virus,” Murphy continued, noting that the one-dose nature of the J&J vaccine “gives us greater agility” against the coronavirus.
He also stated that this will be critical as the state is in “a race against time” due to variants impacting how the virus spreads.
Stack thanked his partners at the state and the county for selecting his densely populated city to benefit from the J&J vaccine before J&J CEO Alex Gorsky reflected on the occasion.
“To think, 13 months ago, our scientists took some numbers on a screen and turned it into the vaccine that was administered today: safe, effective, one shot – it brings tears to my eyes,” he remarked.
Additionally, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli explained that the J&J vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death and 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease.
“That is an unbelievable scientific achievement,” she exclaimed.
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise rounded out the program by commending the day-to-day efforts of Stack and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, who was also in attendance, since the start of the pandemic about a year ago.
On Wednesday, Hudson officials announced that 1,500 J&J doses were being delivered this week, the majority of which would be distributed in North Hudson.
During a brief question and answer session with the press, Murphy addressed where New Jersey stands on reopening in light of the news that Connecticut will lift capacity limits and other COVID-related restrictions on March 19th – as Texas and Arizona have recently done.
“I can’t speak for Connecticut … we follow, Judy and her team are at the front of this, we follow a whole series of data and as that data gets better, and we feel confident – we don’t wanna lurch forward and then have to step back – that’s one thing we have avoided and we just don’t want to do that,” the governor responded.
“Again, I can’t speak for Connecticut: if it weren’t for variants, we would be moving more aggressively, sooner. But we’ve got Brazil, we’ve got New York, we’ve got the UK: we’ve got to make sure that we’re not overrun by that.”
Some cities, such as Detroit, have declined J&J vaccine doses since it is not as effective as Moderna and Pfizer, with it’s ability to prevent moderate to severe infection at 72 percent, according to their clinical trials in the United States.