N.J. to open vaccine eligibility to include people 55 and older

The expansion to millions of residents and those who work in New Jersey means millions more people will be able to get the vaccine.

Mary Jenkins, left, received the COVID-19 vaccine in Paterson, N.J., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Mary Jenkins, left, received the COVID-19 vaccine in Paterson, N.J., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Updated 1:46 p.m.

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New Jersey recorded another 5,884 positive coronavirus cases Friday, Gov. Murphy said.

For PCR tests taken on Monday, 8.07% were positive. The state’s rate of transmission was 1.1.

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New Jersey hospitals had 2,174 coronavirus patients as of Thursday night, including 438 in critical care and 220 requiring ventilators. Hospitals discharged 272 live patients.

Murphy also announced that another 28 residents had died from complications of COVID-19. The state has now recorded 21,823 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 2,535 probable deaths.

N.J. expands vaccine eligibility to those over 55

New Jersey will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility beginning April 5 to people ages 55 and older, as well as to people 16 and older if they have intellectual or developmental disabilities, Gov. Murphy announced Friday.

Others included in the expanded eligibility are college and university educators and staff, librarians and staff at public libraries, and workers in the retail finance sectors. Laundromat and dry cleaning workers, construction workers, electricians, plumbers, and journalists will also be able to make an appointment.

Murphy made the announcement after observing childcare workers receiving the vaccine at Kean University Friday morning.

“We know that there are many in these categories, by the way, who have already received their vaccinations because they already qualify under a previous eligibility expansion,” Murphy said. “But we’re now ready to push forward to include everyone on this list.”

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Murphy said the expanded eligibility would qualify him and his wife Tammy for the vaccination, and said they would make their appointments “through the same process that millions of New Jerseyans have done for theirs.”

The announcement came just a few days before an additional group of frontline essential workers are set to become eligible for the shot.

Starting on March 29, food production and distribution workers, hospitality staff, social services support workers, clergy, and others will be eligible to make a vaccine appointment.

According to the state’s data dashboard, New Jersey has administered nearly 3.8 million coronavirus vaccine shots. About 1.3 million New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated — about a quarter of the state’s goal.

Increase in federal vaccine supply expected

Murphy said New Jersey was expecting to receive 494,430 coronavirus vaccine doses from the federal government next week, a sign that the long-anticipated spike in the supply of the drug has arrived.

That amount would be a 20% increase in New Jersey’s allotment of vaccine doses compared to the previous week.

“We are already averaging several hundred thousand shots a week, and starting next week we’re going to see an increase in our federal allocation which will allow us to get even more shots into arms,” Murphy said.

The Democrat said the anticipated shipment was “in the ballpark” of what the state was expecting in terms of an increase in supply.

Murphy: State on target to open vaccines to general population by May 1

Murphy also indicated that, with an increase in vaccine supply from the federal government and the state’s incremental expansion of eligibility, he was confident New Jersey would be able to make the shot available to anyone over 16 who lives, works, or studies in the state by May 1.

“We want everyone to have a date they can look forward to, and I know everyone is anxious to get their shot,” he said.

President Biden has directed states to open vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1.

According to the White House COVID-19 Response Team, about half of all states will have done so by April 15.

According to the state’s data dashboard, New Jersey has administered nearly 3.8 million coronavirus vaccine shots, and 1.3 million people are fully vaccinated.

FEMA to set up community vaccination site in Newark

The Biden administration is partnering with New Jersey on a pilot community vaccination center in the state’s largest city.

The FEMA-run site will be located at the Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

Murphy said the site is another attempt to ensure equity in vaccine distribution, and that it would be able to administer 6,000 shots per day when it is fully staffed and stocked.

The site is expected to be in place for at least eight weeks.

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