By early next week, the first shipments of the Pfizer novel coronavirus vaccine will be arriving in New Jersey.

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Six New Jersey hospitals have the required deep cold storage needed to preserve the vaccine, which must be kept at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. This is part of a strategic pre-positioning of millions of doses of the vaccine, even before it receives approval from the FDA. for emergency use.

The half dozen hospitals receiving these initial doses are positioned across New Jersey: Hackensack University Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, University Hospital/Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, AtlanticCare/Atlantic City and Copper Hospital/Camden.

Federal drug regulators continue an intense review of testing data provided by Pfizer and its German partner. While the agency has strongly suggested it will grant emergency use of the vaccine, it refuses to offer any solid timetable. All signs point to within the next two weeks. With the pre-positioning of the vaccine, that puts New Jersey on schedule to begin inoculations by the end of the month. Nursing home workers and patients as well as high-risk, patient-facing healthcare workers are expected to have priority.

For many healthcare facilities, the logistics of distribution could prove difficult. The reported side effects can be moderate to severe and include fever, muscle aches and fatigue. It is being recommended by some medical experts that those who receive the vaccine take at least one day off work. As coronavirus cases rise and hospitalizations increase, that could leave some hospitals short staffed just when they need more caregivers. It's also unclear how many healthcare workers will volunteer to receive the vaccine, since it is not expected to be mandatory.

Gov. Phil Murphy has said the goal for New Jersey is to vaccinate 70% of the eligible adult population. In addition to a significant percentage of state residents who say they will not get the shots due to safety concerns, there are reports Pfizer is drastically cutting the number of doses it will be able ship this year. The Wall Street Journal reported Pfizer was cutting the number of deliverable doses this year by half to 50 million. Company officials are refuting that, but do admit testing and setting up a supply chain took longer than expected.

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