New Jersey Requires COVID-19 Vaccine for State Employees by October 18

By: Katie Francis, Follow South Jersey News Reporting Intern

TRENTON, N.J. — During his COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Governor Phil Murphy announced new vaccination and testing requirements for state employees. All state employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18 or be subject to testing at least once or twice a week.

This decision was made in addition to the executive order requiring workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to be fully vaccinated or face regular COVID-19 testing.

The new order now extends the requirement to state employees at state agencies, authorities, public colleges and universities, and it includes full-time, part-time, and contracted employees. The original order, set to take effect on September 7, included workplaces such as hospitals, care facilities, and correctional facilities.

According to Gov. Murphy, the state will work with its public sector union partners “to see its successful implementation.”

The Governor also announced that New Jersey preschool-through-12 school personnel are also required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes all public, private and parochial preschool programs, as well as elementary and secondary schools including charter and renaissance schools.

New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements for state employees, teachers, and health care/high-risk setting employees isn’t as strict as some other mandates in the United States. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington state, for example, is a condition of employment. New Jerseyans who work in these fields can opt out of receiving the vaccine if they so choose, but they’d be required to take multiple COVID-19 tests per week if they remain unvaccinated.

On Monday, the FDA issued full authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine model. This paved the way for certain entities to institute vaccine requirements, as the Pfizer vaccine model was only authorized under the FDA’s emergency use authorization program previously. The COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t provide a full shield against the virus, but it is safe and effective at stopping the virus’ most serious side effects, including severe illness and death.

Gov. Murphy reminded New Jersey residents that kids under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive a vaccine, which is one of many reasons that he said “masking and vaccinations of both students and staff, along with a layered approach to safety, is our top priority for starting the year.”

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.