HUDSON COUNTY, NJ — Hudson County's public coronavirus vaccine site opened Wednesday, and a nurse at Hudson County's regional testing center was the first to get the vaccine there.
"I'd rather get the vaccine then get the coronavirus," said Kathy Gerbasio, who also has served as the Secaucus High School nurse.
The Hudson County site is called the USS Juneau Center and it is located at 110 Hackensack Ave. in Kearny. The site received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine this week.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, including the Moderna vaccine, are a new type of vaccine that doesn't include the weakened virus, but rather, teaches human cells to make a protein that triggers the immune response (read more about that here).
The site will start vaccinating front-line healthcare workers Wednesday and Thursday, even working on Christmas Eve to give out the shots.
Hudson County is the first county in the state of New Jersey to open a county-wide vaccination center.
Gerbasio worked as the school nurse at Secaucus High School for years. But once COVID hit and the school closed down, she volunteered to do COVID testing at Hudson Regional Hospital, which was designated as the county's official COVID test site. (Read more on Secaucus Patch here.)
Who will get the vaccine?
Those getting the vaccine first in Hudson County include front-line medical workers, funeral home workers (as they could be exposed), and lab technicians. Others will get it in subsequent phases. Read more about that here.
Highest death toll
Last week, New Jersey reached its highest death toll in six months from the virus, or 97 people in one day.
At the height of the crisis in New Jersey, when testing and PPE were scarce, 460 people died from the virus in 24 hours on April 30.
The death rate had, for several months, been plummeting as people stayed inside and took precautions. Back on Sept. 8, the state announced two new deaths confirmed in 24 hours.
But deaths began rising again with gatherings, reopenings, and travel to states with higher transmission.
Doctors have said that a number of factors are contributing to the fact that the daily death rate is still lower than spring, including people getting test results (and thus treatment) sooner, more protective equipment available in hospitals, and doctors becoming better able to treat the virus. However, the virus still can have long-term effects.
In total, more than 16,000 people in New Jersey have now passed away from the virus.
Carly Baldwin contributed to this story.
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