N.J. coronavirus update: All residents age 16 and up now eligible for vaccines

Miriam Palomino, right, receives the COVID-19 vaccine in Paterson

Miriam Palomino, right, received the COVID-19 vaccine in Paterson, N.J., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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Anyone who works, lives or studies in New Jersey and is over the age of 16 is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. That follows a national deadline to expand vaccine access set by the Biden administration in early April.

“Today is a big day,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, ushering in the expanded eligibility. Pennsylvania expanded vaccines to this group on April 13, and Delaware on April 6.

Minors must also be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when getting a vaccine in the Garden State. For this age group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has only authorized giving out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Pressure is on to expand immunizations as the region continues to suffer through a deadly wave of cases and variants of concern circulate. More than 2.5 million New Jersey residents are fully vaccinated, and the state hopes to bring that number up to 4.7 million by the end of June.

Only around 4% of vaccines delivered in New Jersey were Johnson & Johnson single-shot doses, said Murphy, continuing that the disruption from temporarily halting that vaccine is minimal.

New Jersey officials urged residents to make an appointment through the state’s vaccine finder website.

Looking ahead, the governor promised guidance on proms, summer camps, and graduations in the coming weeks.

On Monday, the state announced 18 deaths to the coronavirus, and 2,323 new positive cases. In the state’s hospitals, 1,948 people being treated are confirmed positive for COVID-19, 435 in intensive care units and 250 on a ventilator. The death toll from the pandemic is over 25,000 in the Garden State, per Murphy.

The overall picture of infections is improving, but New Jersey health officials declined to declare that the third wave was on its way out.

“We kind of remain in this really delicate balance. We’ve got a context of widely circulating virus … and the number of vaccines increasing over time as well,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan.

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