N.J. coronavirus update: ‘Don’t get choosy’ Murphy warns as vaccine shipment drops

N.J. Transit worker Antonio Harriot waits in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine

N.J. Transit worker Antonio Harriott waits in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the FEMA clinic at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, N.J. on March 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Updated: 3:45 p.m.

New Jersey officials reported Monday an additional 2,631 COVID-19 cases, raising the total to 955,966. The rate of positivity is at .94, below the benchmark of one.

There were 27 additional mortalities added to the virus’s death toll which now stands at 27,323.

As of 10 p.m. Sunday, there were 2,261 hospitalizations; 448 were in intensive care while 241 patients were on ventilators.

Camden County officials said Monday they have 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses on hand and are urging residents to sign up.

It comes as the county reports an uptick in infections among those under age 30.

N.J.’s vaccine shipment drops

Officials warn there will be fewer vaccine doses shipped to the state, especially of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“We received a large infusion of J&J at the end of March,” said state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. “But the sense we have from the federal government is that for the short term our allocation of J&J will be severely restricted for the next several weeks.”

Last week, New Jersey received 550,000 vaccine doses. This week, the state will get 466,000 representing a 15% drop in shipments. The number of J&J doses will also plummet from 131,000 doses to 15,600 doses, an 88% drop.

“And the week after that, as far as we know, it may go down to 5,200 doses,” Persichilli added.

News of the reduced vaccine shipment comes as quality control issues at a contract facility in Baltimore that makes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ruined millions of doses. Though the company has not disclosed the exact number, media reports say 15 million doses were affected.

Because of the expected scarcity of the J&J vaccine, officials are urging residents to take whatever vaccine is available. Pfizer and Moderna are the other two vaccines that have been approved by the federal government.

“All three of these vaccines are good so don’t get choosy folks,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Get whatever you can get; they all work.”

Murphy also noted that the New Brunswick-based pharmaceutical giant was “explicit” that they would still be able to meet their 100 million dose production by the end of May.

Camden County has 2,000 vaccine doses available

Camden County officials said Monday they have 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses on hand and are urging residents to sign up.

It comes as the county reports an uptick in infections among those under age 30.

“We’re seeing outbreaks in our younger population, targeted around our 18’s and early 20’s. We’re seeing a lot of infection there associated with social gathering of sporting groups,” said Caryelle Lasher with the Camden County Health Department.

County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. urged qualified people to sign up as soon as possible, because officials don’t know when they will have a surplus of vaccines again in the future, referring to the serious production delays facing New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson.

“A couple of weeks ago, we were blessed with 10,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There have been some production issues there. We’re not sure when we will have this availability again,” Cappelli said, encouraging residents to sign up on the county’s online portal.

Cappelli said even if you sign up and get a vaccine appointment months away, the county is constantly moving people up as more vaccine becomes available.

The vaccine is distributed at the mega site at Camden County College in Blackwood.

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