Murphy: ‘I still believe we’re in a dramatically different place on Memorial Day’

Gov. Phil Murphy admits the slow rollout of vaccines will impact his goal of having 70% of residents vaccinated within six months — sensing more of those vaccinations will come in the later weeks of the timeline.

But, he is holding out hope that one traditional spring holiday will be a marker in the road to recovery.

“Where are we in the timeframe?” he asked then answered. “I still believe we’re in a dramatically different place on Memorial Day. I’ve said that now a number of times. I can’t guarantee you that we’ve gotten 4.7 million people with shots with their arms. But we’re in a dramatically different and better place.”

Part of that optimism comes with a new administration — President Joe Biden will be inaugurated Wednesday — and part comes from hopes of more vaccines hitting the market, including one from New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson. That vaccine could have approval as soon as next month.

“If Johnson & Johnson comes through, that’s a game changer, period,” Murphy said. “I don’t think we have any sense of the numbers. First of all, either the timing, how efficacious it is, or what scale — but, without question, any other vaccines that are proven to be safe and efficacious are game-changers, and they only are additive to any amount of optimism.”

More vaccines will enable the state to vaccinate more people, including teachers.

“If the supplies begin to amp up, as I’ve said for some number of days, educators are on deck — and that will only help us get schools open,” he said. “Right now: frontline health care workers, fire, police, EMTs and then the folks that the health professionals have deemed to be the most vulnerable to this virus.”