More than 100,000 frontline health care workers and long-term care residents in New Jersey have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination so far, state officials reported Monday.
During his regular COVID-19 response briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy said the statewide total of vaccinations is 101,417.
New Jersey’s vaccination plan is still in phase 1A, serving about 650,000 health care workers and volunteers, as well as residents and staff in long-term care facilities. Vaccine clinics are being set up throughout the state and mega vaccination sites, including one at the Atlantic City Convention Center, are planned.
In South Jersey, more than 3,500 health care workers at Inspira Health and more than 3,000 health care workers at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center have been vaccinated as of Monday. Last week, Ocean County reported vaccinating at least 850 eligible residents at its clinic in Toms River. Officials in Atlantic County, where a vaccination clinic begins Tuesday at Atlantic Cape Community College, expect to vaccinate between 200 and 250 residents per day.
“Every day our vaccine program continues to make progress,” Murphy said, noting that in future briefings, he will be joined by Eddy Bresnitz, the state’s COVID-19 response medical advisor, who is playing a critical role in the state’s distribution program.
Earlier in the day, Murphy visited University Hospital in Newark for the first distribution of the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to frontline health care workers there.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said there are 200 sites statewide for health care workers to get vaccinated, and so far New Jersey has received about 400,000 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines.
Murphy said that there is “without question” a reporting gap in the state’s vaccination progress, and he suspects there are many thousand more than what was reported.
Persichilli said 120,000 doses of the vaccine were reserved for long-term care facilities, 8,000 of which were administered, and by the end of January expect most to be taken care of.
“Getting into the system has proven to be logistically part of the problem,” she said. “Other than that I think its people after the holidays will be lining up.”
Persichilli said the federal government has released the second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which are arriving now, and next week will release the second doses of the Moderna vaccine. She said the Department of Health feels “pretty comfortable on that availability.”
She said she has been in contact with all vaccine sites as to whether they need more doses, or to where the vaccines may be reallocated.
“We want to make sure that within 24 (or) 48 hours, that no vaccines are left on the shelf,” she said.
In addition, Persichilli noted that every county has a Medical Reserve Corps to help administer vaccines and encouraged recently retired health care workers who are able to give vaccinations to register.
“Anyone who is certified to inoculate to sign up because we do need vaccinators particularly when we bring up all the megasites,” Persichilli said.
The state’s second phase of vaccination, 1B, includes frontline essential personnel including first responders and those over the age of 75. Phase 1C will include other essential workers, people ages 65-74, and those ages 16-64 with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19.
Following these phases, the general public will be eligible for vaccination.
New Jersey reported 2,292 new lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 tests Monday and 38 new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the state’s total, confirmed death toll due to the virus to 17,223.
Murphy said that the positivity rate for all lab-confirmed tests recorded on Dec. 31 was 11.22%, based on 28,669 PCR tests, while the statewide rate of transmission remained below 1 at 0.92.
In addition, Murphy said that as schools reopen from winter break, only 77 out of the state’s more than 600 school districts will be full-time, in-person. There are 348 districts that are offering hybrid learning experiences and 339 that are all-remote, as well as 47 offering a combination of hybrid and remote.