By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
TRENTON, N.J. — On Thursday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Twitter that all New Jersey residents aged 12 and older are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently authorized the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine model for adolescents aged 12-15. Earlier this week, Gov. Murphy said that the state would “green light” the Pfizer vaccine, which accounts for 54% of all vaccinations in New Jersey, for use in adolescents, and he made the news official on Thursday afternoon. Community members aged 12-17 are only allowed to use the Pfizer vaccine, but adults can continue receiving the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson models.
“This approval [of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents] would be a big step for the health not just of our state broadly, but in particular of our school communities,” Gov. Murphy said at his COVID-19 briefing on Monday, which took place a few hours before the vaccine was officially authorized for use in younger residents. “[New Jersey Department of Health commissioner] Judy [Persichilli]’s team has already been thinking ahead for this eventuality. The department’s overall goal is to ensure that adolescents who are eligible to be vaccinated receive their doses in an environment that is comforting and accessible, whether it be through partnerships with their schools or their pediatricians, perhaps at a local pharmacy, or even at one of our mega sites.”
Gov. Murphy also said that New Jersey would focus on providing information about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to parents and guardians, who are required to accompany their child to their vaccine appointment if they’re 17 or younger. The state’s “Operation Jersey Summer” campaign, which aims to get vaccine-hesitant community members to get inoculated, will also include adolescents going forward.
As of Monday, New Jersey’s Department of Health was finalizing plans to include adolescents, their parents, and their medical practitioners in the state’s broader vaccination effort.
“We anticipate being able to transition to vaccinating eligible adolescents as soon as Pfizer receives its emergency use authorization,” Gov. Murphy said Monday. “This is one of the areas where we anticipate using our mega sites in what we referred to last week as a hub and spoke model and bringing doses from our mega sites directly to the communities with these adolescents and their families reside.”
New Jersey’s COVID-19 dashboard reported that the state has administered a total of 7,804,653 doses of the vaccines as of Thursday morning. It reported that 3,575,287 people are fully inoculated with both doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine models (and the single-shot Johnson & Johnson model), while a total of 4,511,938 people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state hadn’t updated its dashboard to represent Friday’s totals at the time of this story’s publication.
Much like the rest of the United States, New Jersey’s vaccination effort has slowed down as demand decreases. The state reached 7,000,000 total doses administered over the first weekend of May. At its peak, New Jersey administered more than 120,000 doses of the vaccine per day, but those figures have fallen to approximately 60,000 per day since the calendar changed to May.
Yesterday, the CDC made a landmark announcement by saying fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks in most indoor or outdoor settings. Vaccinated residents should continue to wear masks in public transportation settings like planes, trains, and buses along with other high-risk areas like nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals.
The CDC’s announcement, which is the first major indicator of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, doesn’t apply to unvaccinated residents.
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