Great Britain will be the first nation to begin inoculating its population against COVID-19. Pfizer says it has have won emergency approval there for its vaccine candidate and will begin shipping immediately.

The U.S. is also on the verge of approving the Pfizer vaccine, and most likely a second vaccine made by Moderna. Pfizer has already started shipping millions of doses to strategic locations around the United States, and will be ready for distribution by Dec. 15. Moderna could be ready by Dec. 22.

New Jersey state health officials say they expect to begin vaccinations by the end of this month. The Centers for Disease Control suggests healthcare workers and nursing homes residents be given priority to the limited number of vaccine doses first available.

However, even as the vaccine many have hoped for becomes a reality, many New Jersey residents still have reservations. New Jersey's top doctors also have questions. A recent Rutgers/Eagleton poll found many residents are concerned about potential side effects, and barely half of respondents said they would definitely or probably get the shot. The Murphy administration set a goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population. Poll results show the state would fall well short of that goal.

State health officials also urged caution. Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the state Department of Health, said its way too early to assume the vaccine will turn out to be the breakthrough everyone is hoping for.

Gov. Phil Murphy, while saying there was "light at the end of the tunnel" with the arrival of a vaccine, continues to press for the same mask-wearing and socially distant policies he has espoused from the start. In the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections, Murphy has continued to tighten restrictions on gatherings, sports and travel. Some local mayors have advocated even tighter restrictions. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has threatened to withhold recovery money from any business that does not heed his request to shut down for 10 days following Thanksgiving. He continues to urge residents to shelter in place.

It also remains unclear how quickly New Jersey could recover even if there are widespread vaccinations. State lawmakers expressed hope we could see some form of normalcy by next summer, and have begun debating how best to help businesses get back on their feet. As many as 30% of all businesses may fail. For restaurants, that number could be 60%. A survey by the NJBIA shows most business owners expect continued financial shortfalls in 2021, and that will translate to fewer workers perks and wage increases in the New Year.

Some of the most critical work in this recovery effort may be happening at Rutgers University, where researchers are trying to develop new therapies for those infected with coronavirus. They are seeking volunteers to study if a three drug cocktail could prevent the newly infected from developing severe symptoms. To date, no reliable therapies have been developed to treat COVID.

Most medical experts agree a return to normalcy will not be possible until BOTH a safe, reliable vaccine is developed and readily available and we have proven treatments that can prevent those who still get COVID-19 from becoming seriously ill.

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