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Newark's University Hospital Among First to Get Covid Vaccines

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Newark’s stay-at-home advisory is in effect through Dec. 4 as the city battles a positivity rate that a few weeks ago hit 41% in the Ironbound district.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, chief executive officer of Newark’s University Hospital, said the time it is taking for the number of cases at the hospital to double is falling, which is a worrisome sign.

“That’s concerning because what you end up seeing over time is an increased risk for more vulnerable patients to get the disease,” he said, “and when that happens, your elderly, your folks with chronic disease, et cetera, when that happens you will see hospitalizations go up and mortality go up.”

He said the good news is we’ve become much better at treating Covid and the hospital has been able to stock up on PPE, but if trends continue he said there could be shortages once again.

He also said while cases are rising they are so far way below what they were in the spring, and treatment has improved dramatically. The other good news is that vaccines are coming, and Elnahal said his hospital is at the head of the line.

“We are one of the hospitals that’s going to get the initial allocation of vaccines because we do have ultra-cold storage capacity particularly for the Pfizer vaccine,” he said, “and so we have teams of folks who will be able to receive it, put it immediately in cold storage, our pharmacy team.”

He said vaccines will be shipped over the next several weeks. “Pending emergency use authorization which has not happened yet,” he said, “it is most likely that the Pfizer vaccine will be the first shipped with Moderna soon after that but again you don’t want to speak ahead of federal authorities but that’s what everybody is anticipating.”