Murphy: NJ looking at 76K COVID vaccine doses early as next week

Daniel J. Munoz//December 4, 2020

Murphy: NJ looking at 76K COVID vaccine doses early as next week

Daniel J. Munoz//December 4, 2020

State health officials under the Murphy administration are planning to fast track the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, once some of the state’s 71 acute-care hospitals get their first shipments of the Pfizer dosage as soon as next week.

The state could see 76,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week – the first of three shipments – and between 300,000 and 500,000 total doses by the end of the month.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine require two doses, spaced roughly a month apart, meaning that up to 250,000 New Jerseyans could get vaccinated. But the Pfizer vaccine requires cold storage in near-Arctic temperatures, while the Moderna one is suitable at more widely-available refrigerator-storage.

Pfizer is in the process of getting emergency approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration. Doses could go out within 24 hours of that decision, Murphy said.

“The light on the other side of this pandemic is now becoming visible,” the governor said at a Friday press briefing. “This is a game-changer.”

Murphy also said on Friday he will sign an order changing the New Jersey Immunization Information from an opt-in to opt-out for any resident who chooses not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

And, Murphy said, the system will track who’s gotten the first shot of the two-dose regimen, to ensure the sheer quantity of data surrounding who’s gotten vaccinated and when, can be ‘properly tracked and managed.’

Beginning 30 days after Murphy ends the public health emergency, New Jerseyans can opt-out of the system And, he assured, the system is “very specific” to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Let me be perfectly clear that this order does not force anyone to receive the vaccine,” the governor said. We’re doing this for a simple reason – to ensure that those who choose to receive a vaccine get the most effective course in the most streamlined manner possible, on the proper timetable and without logistical or bureaucratic hurdles in the way.

Having “everybody’s information” will allow the state to “track these dosages and make sure it’s safely distributed.”

The vaccine is a vital step to notably scaling back the restrictions meant to halt the spread of COVID-19, which during the spring wrecked the national economy and drove-up unemployment to decades-long recovery high levels.

In New Jersey, those restrictions entailed a stay-at-home order, indoor and outdoor face-covering requirement, ban on public gatherings, and the mandated closure of any businesses where people gather and risk exposure to the virus.

“There’s an enormous amount of intensity around getting this exactly right – one of the more complex processes this country will have ever undertaken,” the governor added on Friday.

According to NorthJersey.com, six acute-care hospitals will be the first to get them, but Murphy on Friday did not comment on the report.

Health care workers, emergency responders and essential workers will be among the first to get it, as would senior citizens and those with preexisting medical conditions.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved nursing home residents to the top of that priority list.