Upward of 1.1 million New Jerseyans could still be eligible for the Pfizer booster shot in New Jersey – far less than the 2.4 million the state had been expecting – after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration endorsed a narrower set of Americans receiving the extra jab.
Under the FDA’s Friday decision, high-risk patients and those at least 65 years of age are eligible for a booster shot at least six months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine—so by March.
The exact number of people eligible for the Pfizer booster shot is extremely fluid given the lack of any official guidance. It could be as low as just the 430,000 seniors aged 65 and older who’ve gotten it, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Or, it could include health care workers and those with high-risk medical conditions, which would swell the eligible population to roughly 1.1 million, she added.
The boosters would be supported by a “combination of existing outlets … county sites and probably one mega-site to begin with,” Persichilli added, like the one at Rowan University in Gloucester County
Upward of 2.4 million New Jerseyans would have suddenly been eligible for a booster shot had the FDA approved them for the general population. There is no approval for those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots.
State officials, like Murphy, said they were confident they could almost – if not immediately – get the shots into people’s arms.
“To administer these booster shots, we will be working through our existing partnerships with health care providers and community pharmacy partners, among others,” Murphy said during his now twice-a-week COVID-19 press briefing on Sept. 20.
The FDA pared down efforts by President Joe Biden to have Pfizer boosters available to anyone in the general population.
Those proposals had been the subject of intense disagreement in the global scientific community. Amid those disagreements playing out, the state still needs final guidance from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “before we open the window for folks who qualify for a booster to get that shot,” Murphy said.
“We are currently working to make sure that we have the supply ready to go once the CDC and FDA give us their final booster guidance,” the governor said.
The next approval needed would be from the CDC Advisory Committee, which meets this Wednesday.d