More than 6 million people who live, work or study in New Jersey have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to recent state health data.
Gov. Phil Murphy, in an Oct. 22 tweet, said the metric marked “an incredible milestone that puts us one step closer to ending this pandemic.”
According to a state-run dashboard, 5.8 million people have gotten the vaccine at a New Jersey site, while another 200,043 New Jersey residents got the shot out of state.
Vaccine mandates are in place for roughly 200,000 K-12, higher education and state workers, plus thousands of state contractors, in response to persistent vaccine resistance that help drive delta variant surges this summer and early fall. In addition, some large New Jersey private employers such as United Airlines are requiring their workers be vaccinated, while many businesses, entertainment venues and public events are requiring it for their customers.
In September, President Joe Biden said that businesses with more than 100 employees would have to require their workers to get the vaccine. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is hashing out those rules, which according to state labor officials could affect 4,646 private worksites employing nearly 1.4 million people in New Jersey.
There are more than 9.2 million people living in the state, and the group of 3.2 million unvaccinated residents includes children age 5 to 11 who soon could be eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our goal is to make it as accessible and convenient as possible,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said during a remotely held COVID-19 press briefing on Oct. 20. That means offering the vaccine at retail pharmacies, county-run sites, state-run vaccine mega-centers, federally qualified health centers and school clinics, Persichilli said.
More than 1.1 million people in the state could be eligible for the Pfizer booster, which is reserved for those above the age of 65, adults with high-risk medical conditions, and workers whose jobs put them at risk for exposure, such as frontline health care employees.
Earlier this week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approves Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s bid for COVID-19 booster shots, and cleared “mix and match” administrations of different vaccines as boosters.
Through coordination with the Biden administration. New Jersey health officials will attempt to roll out infrastructure for those boosters, and first Pfizer doses for children ages 5 to 11, Persichilli said.
Public health officials across the global scientific community debated over the summer whether booster shots would be effective. Murphy on Wednesday lamented that “mixed message out of the feds” and “disagreements or healthy discussions between different branches of the health organizations” may be fueling hesitancy thus far to get a booster shot.
“[B]oosters would not have been approved if folks … in the science and medical communities did not conclude that they added meaningful extra protection,” the governor said.
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