By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
TRENTON, N.J. — On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy outlined New Jersey’s plan to distribute a coronavirus vaccine in the future.
The state has set an initial goal of vaccinating 70% of its adult population in six months. This, according to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, would mean that approximately 81,000 people would need to be vaccinated per day. New Jersey’s three main goals in distribution will be providing equitable access for all residents, achieving maximum community protection, and building public trust in the vaccine.
Health care workers — including ICU nurses, dentists, and home health providers, among others — will likely receive first priority in terms of receiving the vaccine, and those older than the age of 65 will be prioritized next. Additionally, people with underlying medical conditions, those who live in crowded spaces such as prisons, and essential workers unable to socially distance regularly will also get priority following health care workers. Teachers, child care workers, food packaging/distribution workers, and other health care workers could be prioritized under the group of essential workers who can’t socially distance regularly.
Nothing is set in stone at this time — a vaccine hasn’t been approved for rapid distribution by the Food and Drug Administration yet — so it’s currently unclear exactly how many vaccine doses the state will get.
“I am proud today to be able to say these four words: We will be ready,” Gov. Murphy said on Monday.
Gov. Murphy made the announcement of the state’s plan during a coronavirus briefing. Though the state has held these briefings regularly throughout the pandemic, they’ve been taking place remotely since a member of the governor’s staff tested positive for the virus last week.
Although the state will coordinate and support vaccine distribution, the vaccines themselves will likely be distributed locally. Gov. Murphy expects local health departments, hospitals, federally-qualified health centers, and pharmacies to play crucial roles in getting the vaccine to community members. The state will also lean on recommendations from a number of public health entities — including the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the National Academy of Sciences — throughout the process of distributing vaccines to the public.
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