100 days of vaccinations: NJ doctor talks COVID variants, holiday expectations


NEW JERSEY — One hundred days ago, New Jersey administered the state’s first COVID-19 at University Hospital in Newark.

President and CEO of University Hospital in Newark Dr. Shereef Elnahal spoke to PIX11 News about the state’s vaccine distribution, the Garden State’s vaccine supply and whether or not he thinks we’ll be able to celebrate the holidays with loved ones this year. 

Vaccine distribution

The Garden State has been doing well in distribution. The state is in the top 10, but has not vaccinated enough people — only 20% of New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated and the state won’t see the effects of decreasing cases until about 50 to 70% of people are vaccinated. 

Newark’s call for vaccinations

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has called for all residents to be vaccinated as the city is seeing more COVID variants. 

Dr. Elnahal said Baraka’s request is valid as University Hospital is also seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

The state should expect an increase in supply, and President Joe Biden has called on all adults to be eligible for vaccines in May, so Dr. Elnahal said. 

Rutgers University requiring vaccinations

Dr. Elnahal said Rutgers University’s announcement requiring vaccinations for students is a “bold move” but also the right move. 

His hospital is starting to see younger demographic groups admitted to hospitals as older people are getting vaccinated.

Seeing all students vaccinated, with several exemptions, will be possible come the fall 2021 semester with Biden’s directive. 

Gov. Murphy’s pause on lifting restrictions

Gov. Murphy announced he would be pausing on reopenings as the state sees a rise in COVID variants. 

Dr. Elnahal said it was the right decision as variants grow, sparking concern.

Holiday season celebrations

Will we be able to celebrate the holidays differently than we did last year? Dr. Elnahal said he is optimistic we’ll be able to celebrate with loved ones by July 4 as long as vaccine distribution continues. 

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