Hoboken officials and health care workers gathered outside the Hoboken University Medical Center this morning to celebrate the first COVID-19 vaccinations in the Mile Square City.
— Hudson County View (@HudsonCoView) December 22, 2020
“Where are we right now? We’re in the midst of the worst global pandemic in a century. We’ve lost hundreds of thousands around the nation … Vaccines are one of the most important developments to health care in human history,” said Dr. John Rimmer, the first to HUMC employee to receive his Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this morning.
” … To speak about the vaccine, I know there’s a lot of skepticism out there, and any new modality should be looked at critically, but I want to encourage everyone that the science is sound. You’re not going to get COVID if you get the vaccine.”
Rimmer also compared getting the vaccine to giving your immune system a personal trainer to fight the virus.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla echoed that sentiment, expressing that “the vaccine is sound” and urging all residents to get vaccinated when the opportunity presents itself, which he vowed to do as well.
He also said now is not the time to let out guard down, noting that preventative measures such as washing our hands, social distancing, and wearing a face mask are still crucial for the time being.
Another HUMC worker who was vaccinated today, Dinorah Vargas, a unit clerk at the ICU, said that she has seen a lot inside the hospital since the pandemic hit back in March.
“As a health care worker, I have witnessed a lot inside this medical community … I received the vaccine at 9:39 this morning, along with Dr. Rimmer, not for myself, but my family, my co-workers, my friend, and my community.”
During the question and answer session with the media, Rimmer said that the hospital had received about 100 doses of the vaccine so far and he was not anticipating any symptoms besides some fatigue and muscle soreness at the injection site.
When asked how he would reach the younger population that had not been following public health guidelines to this point, Bhalla said “we are not leaving any options off the table.”
“We understand the challenge ahead of us and we are proactively in the initial stages of really a marketing campaign … to ensure that people understand that their vaccination is critical to eradicate this virus,” the mayor said.
The HUMC is one of CarePoint’s three facilities that are in the process of being sold by CarePoint Health, potentially to Hudson Regional Hospital who said they purchased the land the hospital sits on for $144 million back in June.
The county has since initiated an eminent domain proceeding and Bhalla said there have been no further developments at this time and he isn’t worried about the possibility of the hospital closing or any other sort of setbacks related to the acquisition process.
“We just as a municipality are very grateful for the services that CarePoint has provided in Hoboken during its operation of the hospital and we look forward to a smooth transition as we facilitate that transition – with the primary purpose of making sure we provide quality, affordable health care to all Hoboken residents.”
Bhalla also stated that a timeline for when municipal employees, such as those that work for the health department, will be determined in the coming weeks.