Murphy: N.J., anticipating authorization, already making plans to vaccinate those 12-15

Gov. Phil Murphy said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and her team are making plans to open the COVID-19 vaccination process to adolescents between the ages of 12 to 15 — potentially bringing doses to schools around the state.

“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, their pediatricians, at a local pharmacist or even at one of our megasites,” Murphy said.

Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing Monday, said the state is anticipating that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration will give approval for this age group, potentially this week.

Murphy said this approval would be a big step for the health of the state and the school communities, but he said any plan involving that age group would include parents and guardians.

“Importantly, we are also going to remain focused on ensuring that parents have access to information,” he said. “The broad-based outreach campaign we discussed last week will be large part of this. But we know we can also undertake this by working directly with, and within, our schools.”

Murphy said formal plans to guide both parents and guardians, and practitioners, are being finalized by the health department and that the state anticipates being able to transition to vaccinating eligible adolescents as soon as Pfizer receives its emergency use authorization.

“This is one of the areas where we anticipate using our megasites in a hub-and-spoke model and bringing doses from our megasites directly to the communities where these adolescents and their families reside,” Murphy said.

“Additionally, our partners at Walgreens have already been working with multiple school districts across the state to vaccinate students ages 16 and over, and they, too, will be ready to transition to vaccinating this younger cohort once the approvals come forward.

“All-in-all, we know that it is only a matter of time until this happens, and we have spent our time preparing so we can get this latest expansion underway with minimal lead time.”

Anyone between the ages of 12-15 who is vaccinated will not count toward the state’s goal of vaccinating 4.7 million adults by June 30.

Murphy, however, said progress on that front continues to improve. As of Monday morning, Murphy said 3.6 million Jerseyans have been fully vaccinated (this includes nearly 162,000 New Jerseyans who have been vaccinated out of state).

Murphy said nearly 4.5 million New Jersey residents have received at least their first vaccination shot at one of the in-state vaccination sites.