N.J. coronavirus update: Kids 12-15 eligible for Pfizer vaccine upon CDC approval

Once the CDC director approves it as expected, New Jersey children ages 12 to 15 will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, health officials said Wednesday.

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Pennsylvania Hospital. (Courtesy of Penn Medicine)

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Pennsylvania Hospital. (Courtesy of Penn Medicine)

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New Jersey officials reported an additional 1,167 cases of COVID-19; the combination of PCR and antigen tests. The number of cases, overall, total 1,009,093.

Another 33 deaths from the virus were reported, raising the death toll to 23,234. An additional eight deaths were added to the number of probable deaths being investigated by the state Health Department. That number now stands at 2,648.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, there are 1,041 patients in hospitals across the state; 247 are in intensive care and 162 are on ventilators.

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The statewide rate of transmission is exactly at 1.00. That means for every one person who has been infected, the virus is passed to one other person. Anything above one is a sign that the virus is spreading.

N.J. kids 12-15 to be eligible for Pfizer vaccine

Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has granted emergency approval for the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15, New Jerseyans in that age range are automatically eligible for it wherever it’s administered.

An advisory committee to the CDC voted to recommend use of the vaccine for this group Wednesday afternoon, with the director of the agency expected to issue final approval later in the day.

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“This will be a big step forward for public health, but in particular for our school communities,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, who noted that the state’s youngest residents have had the greatest rates of transmission.

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli is urging parents to get their children vaccinated, saying it will help fight the spread of the virus.

“Adolescents want to get back to seeing their friends,” she said. “They want to get back to going on trips, and the best way to do that safely is to get vaccinated.”

Persichilli also noted that 116 cases of Multi-syndrome Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) have been reported in the state.

MIS-C is a rare condition where body parts, including the heart, lungs, and kidneys become inflamed. What causes MIS-C is unknown, but many children who had been diagnosed with the syndrome either had the virus that causes COVID-19 or were around someone with COVID-19.

“It can be a serious, even deadly syndrome,” said Persichilli. “But most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.”

No children have died from MIS-C in New Jersey. But the commissioner noted that seven people under 18 have died from COVID-19.

“While many do not think this virus can be serious for children, the data shows that it can be,” she said.

Persichilli encouraged parents to consult their pediatrician if they have questions about the vaccine.

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