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University Hospital Nurse First in NJ to Get Covid Vaccine

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New Jersey on Tuesday administered its first Covid vaccine, at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, next to University Hospital in Newark.

It went to 56-year old Maritza Beniquez, a nurse at the hospital. “I didn’t feel it, there’s no pain, I feel great,” she said. “I’m excited, I’m happy that in another two months, month and a half, I won’t have to be afraid to go into a room (with a Covid patient) anymore.”

After Beniquez got her shot -- on her birthday -- three doctors and a medical assistant were vaccinated, including Dr. Robert Johnson, dean of the medical school.

The last one to get the vaccine was University Hospital emergency room doctor Charles Farmer, who said now is the time for a Q and A with YOUR doctor. “We need to do a good job of validating people’s concerns,” he said. “I encourage everyone to sit down with their families, write down their questions, concerns, take it to your physician, get your questions answered so you can make the best decision for you and your family.”

The hospital has set up a clinic for the vaccinations, with an area for patients to be monitored for 15 minutes for adverse reactions after getting the shot.

Governor Murphy toured the facility, and was there for the vaccinations. Afterwards he reassured everyone that the vaccine had not been rushed through the approval process. “We are supremely confident in the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” he said. “We are confident in the FDA’s action and in the review conducted by the vaccine advisory panel which recommended that the emergency use application move forward.”

As for Beniquez, she recalled what it was like when the coronavirus first hit New Jersey in the spring. “It was just wave after wave of critically ill patients that were coming in with no end in sight,” she said. “It was like watching a tornado or a hurricane cause that sort of devastation in the field, and instead of it being the buildings it was our own people.”