River’s Edge Hospital received its first allocation from the South Central Emergency Management Coalition of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 21 and, soon after, Jamie Session, RN in the Emergency Room, received the first dose of the vaccine.

“I knew it was something I wanted to do to protect myself and my family,” Sessions said. “There was never a doubt that this was something I wanted to get.” She added that it is important for people to get the facts about the vaccine from reliable sources.

Vaccination is planned to be rolled out in phases, with health care workers receiving the vaccine first, and then long-term care workers and residents. It will take some time before the vaccine is available to the general public.

“While we all wait to receive the vaccine, it is important to remember that we all must still continue to wear a mask when out in public, maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing, and wash our hands,” said Paula Meskan, interim CEO at River’s Edge Hospital. “These three things, along with receiving the vaccine, are the key to ending the pandemic.”

Recipients of the vaccine will receive two doses of the vaccine, the second coming three weeks after the first dose.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11 from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA may issue EUA when certain criteria are met, which includes that there are no adequate, approved, available alternatives. The FDA’s decision is based on the totality of scientific evidence available showing that the vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19.

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