New Jersey hospital practices how to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

Health care workers at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, are practicing how to distribute the coronavirus vaccine once the shipments from Pfizer arrive.

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Dr. Shereef Elnahal is president of the hospital. He said they’ve never had to do something like this before.

“This is a setup for vaccination that I’ve never seen or had to do,” said Elnahal.

Under Operation Warp Speed, University Hospital is one of about 250 sites across the country testing logistics and distribution with setups like this.

“We’re testing the actual assembly line process for people to get registered, quickly vaccinated, quickly observed over at least 15 minutes to make sure there are no adverse events or allergic reactions, and then given that appointment card to come back for their second injection,” said Elnahal.

At this site once they start, they will have the ability to vaccinate more than 3,000 people per week. New Jersey’s goal is to vaccinate 4.7 million people within six months.

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Jonathan Green is the executive director of the hospital’s emergency department. He will be one of the first frontline workers to receive a vaccine. Last spring, they lost 10 dear colleagues to the coronavirus.

“I think about it every day,” said Green. “I was just looking at some photographs of one of our directors of nursing who passed away. And it’s you never think that you’re going to come to work and get sick and die, and that shouldn’t happen for anybody. So we’re excited that the vaccine is here. I wish it was sooner.”

In the coming weeks, there will be mega sites in New Jersey using expanded versions of the model from University Hospital. They will include colleges and vacant department stores with the capability to vaccinate up to tens of thousands of people a week.

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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