Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) held a press conference on Friday to provide updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine efforts in New Jersey.
An additional 6,046 cases and 16 newly confirmed deaths were reported in New Jersey yesterday, pushing the statewide total to 368,016 cases and 15,485 deaths, according to the New Jersey Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard. Another 1,836 deaths were potentially linked to COVID-19.
As of yesterday, there were 3,241 hospitalizations, with 622 patients in critical or intensive care and 396 patients on ventilators, according to the dashboard.
While the transmission rate has dropped consistently since Sept. 16, with Friday’s rate being 1.05 percent, Murphy said he expects it to rise again in the upcoming days.
“The fewer new cases, the fewer new hospitalizations … it’s perhaps the biggest reason we need everybody to please keep up with the practices that allowed us to crush the curves in the first place,” he said.
Murphy announced that several hospitals are preparing to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and that it is anticipated that the first distribution will include 76,000 doses, with additional shipments expected every week thereafter.
“This prepositioning is important to ensure first, that delivery and storage systems work, and second, to assist the federal government in expediting shipments and delivery,” he said.
Murphy said New Jersey will be able to start providing vaccinations once the vaccine receives its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
With hospitals preparing to receive the first vaccines, he signed an executive order on Friday to change the inclusion into the New Jersey Immunization Information System from an opt-in to an opt-out program for any resident looking to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
He said this means that if a New Jersey resident wants to be vaccinated against COVID-19, they do not have to opt into the system. Though, after the current public health emergency ends, those who are enrolled in the system will be able to withdraw if they do not wish to receive a vaccination, Murphy said.
“Let me be perfectly clear: This order does not enforce anyone to receive the vaccine,” he said. “We are doing this for a simple reason, to ensure that those who choose to receive a vaccine get the most effective course in the most streamlined manner possible on the proper timetable and without logistical or bureaucratic hurdles in the way.”
Murphy said it is important that everyone’s information is accounted for in order to ensure that the state can properly track the dosages and efficiently distribute them to those who want to be vaccinated against COVID-19.