State pushes boosters as COVID case numbers continue to rise

Daniel J. Munoz//November 22, 2021//

State pushes boosters as COVID case numbers continue to rise

Daniel J. Munoz//November 22, 2021//

Listen to this article

The Murphy administration is encouraging anyone in New Jersey eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot to get one with cases on rise heading into the holiday season.

On Nov. 19, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved a booster shot for all U.S adults who’ve gotten their second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago. Any adult who’s gotten the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine at least two months ago is also eligible, the CDC said.

“With the holidays approaching, we encourage all individuals who have received their COVID-19 vaccination to get a booster dose,” Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a Nov. 20 statement. “We also continue to encourage all individuals who have not yet received a vaccination, to do so ahead of holiday gatherings and travel to avoid putting themselves, their family, and community at risk.”

Business executives and public health experts have told NJBIZ that while COVID-19 will still be around – both in the environment and on people’s minds – many New Jerseyans might be more willing to take risks over the holidays this year.

A New Jersey resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Matthew AME Church community vaccination site in Orange on March 19, 2021.
A New Jersey resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine. – EDWIN J. TORRES/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

“People are realizing that this isn’t going away, that we have to learn to live with it, but we have to live,” said Michele Siekerka, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. “People are doing what they’re comfortable with.”

On Nov. 21, the state logged 1,482 positive COVID-19 test results, according to the Health Department, and reported 764 hospitalizations as of Nov. 19. At the start of the month, total COVID-19 hospitalizations dipped below 700.

The seven-day average of positive COVID-19 cases was 1,871 as of Nov. 19, according to the CDC, or a 59% increase from the last low-point of 1,173 cases per week on Oct 24. The rate of transmission – the speed at which the virus spreads – rose on Nov. 21 to 1.21 and has remained above 1 for several weeks, indicating that the virus continues to spread.

“If we don’t get people vaccinated who need to be vaccinated, and we get that conflating with an influenza season, we could have a dark, bad winter,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top infectious disease figures and President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, told CBS News in September.

Nearly 13.9 million in New Jersey have gotten at least one shot, and more than 6.2 million of the state’s 9 million residents are fully vaccinated.

Data from the state shows that 601,128 people have gotten a third dose or booster of Pfizer, 466,419 people have gotten the added dose from Moderna and another 20,407 from J&J.

Murphy and his administration have shifted their focus toward the booster shots and getting the vaccines to children ages five to 11 following federal approval for the Pfizer shot for that age group.

So far, 47,390 children up to 11 years of age have been inoculated, according to state health data.