UNION CITY – It was a low-key comment by Tom DeGise that nicely summed things up.
“We’re turning a page here today,” said the Hudson County Executive.
The scene was the basement of a seniors’ apartment building on 45th Street where residents were among the first in New Jersey to get the brand-new, one-shot, Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. The celebratory event attracted the governor and dozens of local politicians, all of whom crowded around to see needles go in arms. So crowded was the room – masks were worn – that it was tough to hear DeGise’s comment.
That changed a few minutes later when Gov. Phil Murphy led the group outside for an open-air press conference in the building’s cold and windy courtyard.
“Wow, wow, wow,” the governor observed. “It was a moment of magic.”
Murphy is prone to exaggerations, but this one was on the mark.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots three weeks apart. The Johnson & Johnson version cuts that in half, which, logically, can make it twice as appealing as the others.
The first person to get that vaccine today was building resident Ana Marie Flores who read a statement of thanks to all who made it happen.
Alex Gorsky, the Johnson & Johnson CEO, said it was only 13 months ago that the company began working on a COVID vaccine.
And in tune with the overall good feeling of the day, Gorsky optimistically predicted, “We’re going to have a much better summer.”
The governor expressed pride that Johnson & Johnson, which he called a Jersey icon, was leading the vaccine effort. Still, there’s really no competition here, at least not publicly. Murphy and Gorsky both said that all three vaccines are safe and effective.
Still, there’s something uplifting about a new one.
“This is a huge day in our fight to beat COVID,” Murphy said.