Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that all state residents ages 65 and older, plus those between the ages of 16-64 with medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus (as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), may begin to receive their vaccinations as of Thursday.
Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing, said the state has the infrastructure to handle the increase and that it anticipates an increase in deliveries of vaccines.
“We are now ready to begin to ramp up our vaccination efforts exponentially,” he said. “As we have said previously, we had expected to be able to expand our vaccination program in waves, allowing more residents to enter the line before the entirety of the previous group had gone through. As federal Health Secretary Alex Azar put it yesterday — and this is a fitting analogy — think of it as boarding an airplane.
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“We have announced the boarding groups, and we are allowing groups to enter the line to get on board in a timely fashion without necessarily waiting for everyone from the previous group to be in their seats. This is what is going to keep our lines moving, and what is going to get more of our residents vaccinated in a lesser amount of time.”
Murphy said eligible residents will start receiving notification about scheduling an appointment in the state system, NJVSS, when they are eligible. He said more than 1.2 million have preregistered at covidvaccine.nj.gov.
Murphy said the state will be able to properly track vaccinations to ensure residents receive the proper follow-up dose. And, Murphy said, if the federal government continue to make more doses available — as the state expects — he anticipates being able to allow more residents into the vaccination lines.
“We will keep you fully updated on that progress and will publicly announce every new group eligible to be vaccinated as we move forward,” he said.
Murphy said CVS and Walgreens are continuing to move through their scheduled visits to long-term care facilities to vaccinate residents and staff, saying 220 nursing home clinics have been completed and 28,500 nursing home residents and staff have received their first vaccinations, as of the end of day Tuesday.
“Let there be no mistake, our vaccination program is ramping up and prepared for this task,” he said. “We are working diligently to ensure that the vaccines we have received are distributed equitably to where they need to be so that you can get your initial dose.”
The state site, covidvaccine.nj.gov, has more information, a list of vaccination sites statewide and a link to preregister.