More than 4.7 million New Jersey adults who live, work or study in New Jersey have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine in the state, hitting an older goal set out by the Murphy administration to reach that many arms before June 30, according to the latest COVID-19 metrics by the New Jersey Department of Health reported on June 28.
“So, no matter how you slice it, we’ve unequivocally met our ambitious June 30 goal,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during his regular COVID-19 press briefing on Monday.
Last week, the Murphy administration marked its milestone of having administered 4.7 million overall shots, including adults, teenagers and children, and any resident who got the shot out of state.
Widespread vaccinations have been key to lifting COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, and for keeping them lifted. Capacity limits are no longer required under state law for businesses such as restaurants, bars, gyms, malls, salons, casinos, retail, sports stadiums and theaters.
Facemasks and social distancing are no longer required among fully vaccinated patrons.
With Pfizer already having federal approval to use the vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, and Moderna looking for the green light to give the shots to those between the ages of 12 and 18, state health officials are setting their sights on vaccinating younger crowds.
According to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, parents should focus on getting their high school and middle school-aged children vaccinated over the summer and ahead of the 2021/2022 school year, which will see a statewide return to physical classrooms.
Nearly 5 million of the state’s 9.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated, and residents between the ages of 12 and 17 make up nearly 485,000 of the 9.7 million total doses given.
“I cannot stress enough that all of these numbers are almost exclusively of unvaccinated residents,” Murphy added, in reference to daily cases, fatalities and hospitalizations. “Because of the vaccines in our toolbox, COVID is now largely a preventable illness. Nearly every number we count each day is one that didn’t have to be if someone had gotten vaccinated.”
Hospitalizations have hit record-lows, and last week the state went without any new COVID-19 fatalities for the first time in a year.
Murphy has stressed this month that the shots are more than 99% effective in preventing new infections, and “even stronger” in preventing serious cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
With interest lagging in getting the shot, state-run efforts to encourage that final round of inoculations include intense public messaging, incentives, perks, bringing vaccine sites to local neighborhoods and sites like religious establishments, and outreach to minority communities, as vaccination rates nationwide – and in New Jersey – reflect African American and Hispanic communities lagging in getting the vaccine. Many Black and Brown New Jerseyans said they are still not willing to get the vaccine–and at a much higher rate than other demographics.