By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
SOUTH JERSEY — New Jersey has now administered more than 8,000,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses statewide, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
As of Monday morning, the state’s dashboard reported a total of 8,023,354 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered throughout New Jersey. Of those, 3,701,800 people have received the second Pfizer or Moderna doses — or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson model — that makes them fully inoculated against the pandemic. New Jersey also reported that 4,610,052 people in the state have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state is now within 1,000,000 people of reaching its initial goal of fully inoculation 70% of its adult population — or 4.7 million people. This goal was set at the start of New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination effort with a deadline of the beginning of summer.
New Jersey added 1,000,000 COVID-19 doses administered in a little more than two weeks. The state reached 7,000,000 doses administered over the first weekend of May, and it took another two weeks for the state to reach that milestone following the 6,000,000 milestone, which was achieved on April 19. The state’s progress in vaccinating its population against COVID-19 has slowed, as it took just 10 days for the state to hit six million vaccinations after reaching the 5,000,000 milestone on April 9. New Jersey reached that milestone just 11 days after reaching 4,000,000 total doses administered.
Progress on the COVID-19 vaccine front has slowed despite the state opening vaccinations to all residents on April 19. Vaccine hesitancy is one possible explanation for this, as many residents who want to be vaccinated have already received their shots. Those who don’t, however, are still hesitant to roll up their sleeves and, therefore, are responsible for slowing the state’s progress towards its return to normalcy.
New Jersey, like other states, has offered incentives to try and encourage those who are unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves. “Operation Jersey Summer,” the state’s largest campaign dedicated to combating vaccine hesitancy, includes practical changes like greater vaccine access along with initiatives involving religious figures, community leaders, and even an offer of a free beer to those who get inoculated.
Despite the cheesy, if not pandering initiatives like this in place, perhaps the most convincing bit of news to get vaccine-hesitant community members inoculated came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last Thursday. The CDC said that fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks and socially distance in most public settings. Essentially, the CDC said that, if you’re vaccinated, you can safely get your life back to normal.
“The science is clear: If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic,” the CDC said in a statement issued last Thursday.
New Jersey isn’t quite yet lifting its indoor mask mandate despite the CDC’s new guidelines, according to tweets posted by Governor Phil Murphy on Friday afternoon. Other states, including Pennsylvania, have loosened their mask-related policies in response to the CDC guidance, taking a laissez-faire approach that heavily relies on the honor system.
“We will keep our indoor mask mandate in place in public settings as we continue to work toward our vaccination goals. To be clear, we’re making incredible progress, but we’re not there yet,” Gov. Murphy said on Twitter last Friday. “One thing is abundantly clear: fully vaccinated people are much safer to engage in everyday life than unvaccinated people. This is even more reason for every eligible New Jerseyan to make the decision to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Gov. Murphy agrees with the CDC’s updated guidance regarding masks in outdoor settings and at small, private gatherings in private residences. The CDC said that fully vaccinated people don’t need masks outdoors and in small, private gatherings with other vaccinated people, but nothing that the CDC came out with last week applied to unvaccinated people. Those who aren’t inoculated should still continue to wear masks in most public indoor settings, according to the CDC.
New Jersey will lift nearly all percentage-based capacity restrictions on businesses this Wednesday, per previously-announced legislation by Gov. Murphy.
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