All New Jersey residents ages 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.
Those conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Individuals who are pregnant and those in an immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant are also eligible but should follow CDC guidance and first discuss vaccination with their medical provider before receiving the vaccine.
In addition to paid and unpaid healthcare workers in Phase 1A, these two groups mark the expansion of eligible residents in Phase 1B, which recently opened to include sworn law enforcement and fire professionals.
“Over the last several months, our Administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” said Governor Murphy. “Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”
“Expanding access to vaccine to individuals in these categories is critical as we know they are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Eighty percent of COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey have been among those 65 and older and overall 67 percent of deaths had one or more underlying conditions reported.”
Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced Tuesday that in addition to the City’s current two Newark Department of Health vaccination sites located at 110 William Street and 394 University Avenue, there will be new rotating vaccination locations throughout the city beginning in February. These rotating sites will be open two days per week in each Ward to provide equal access for residents.
Officals is Paterson announced enhanced plans for COVID testing and vaccination. COVID test sites will be re-opening six days a week throughout the city. The sites will be available day and night in Paterson and the unit will move throughout the city, aiming to administer the COVID test to as many individuals as possible.
Paterson has also received a larger shipment of vaccinations. In two weeks the city has already vaccinated 1,600 people and now plan to vaccinate even more.
In a letter to New Jersey’s commissioners of health and education, the Orthodox Union’s Teach NJ called on the state to re-prioritize educators in its COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Teach NJ is a nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of New Jersey nonpublic schools.
Educators were not included in the recent expansion and are still waiting to gain access.
“In-person instruction is critical for the children of New Jersey and their educational and emotional development,” Dan Mitzner, the director of state political affairs for Teach Coalition, wrote in the letter. “It is also essential to repair the economy, as parents must return to the workforce. This is a notion that Governor Murphy has repeatedly supported long before schools reopened in the fall. Prioritizing teachers and staff will ensure that schools can continue to remain open by allowing our educators to be vaccinated now.”
As the state calls on qualified health care professionals to assist in its effort to vaccinate New Jersey adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji is sponsoring a bill that would permit optometrists to administer vaccines.
The bill authorizes optometrists to administer the influenza vaccine and vaccines related to public health emergencies – including the current COVID-19 pandemic – to adults.
Assemblymember Herb Conaway is sponsoring a bill that would allow dentists to join in these vaccination efforts. Dentists would be authorized to administer vaccines related to a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the influenza vaccine. Dentists would be limited to administering vaccines to adults only.