TRENTON — New Jersey is expecting shipments of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as soon as December, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Friday.

The earliest shipments are expected to go to health care professionals and first responders first, with the vaccine likely becoming available to the public in April or May, she said.

Persichilli said the Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses 21 days apart, with 130,000 units of the vaccine coming in mid-December, followed by another 130,000 units by the end of the year. Moderna, which is given in two shots 28 days apart, would likely send 100,000 doses in December and another 100,000 weeks later, she said.

The announcement comes the same day Pfizer asked U.S. regulators for emergency use of its vaccine, with Moderna not far behind.

The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage, while Moderna's needs only refrigeration. Persichilli said 40 of the state's hospitals have said they have the ability to maintain ultra-cold storage.

New Jersey is aiming to vaccinate about 4.7 million adults, or about 70% of the state's population, within six months of availability, according to the commissioner.

The seven-day average of coronavirus cases for the second week in November, according to state figures, reached more than 3,500 cases daily, compared with about 900 cases a day in October. In September, the average was about 460.

Hospitalizations are also up, reaching more than 2,500, compared with about 760 a month ago and roughly 400 the month before that.

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