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Murphy expands coronavirus vaccine eligibility to those 55 or older, more essential workers

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said groups that will be eligible for the vaccine starting April 1 include essential workers in higher education, libraries and retail financial services. – Photo by Phil Murphy / Twitter

All New Jerseyans age 55 and older and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities age 16 and older will be eligible for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine starting April 5, said Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) on Friday at a press conference.

He said the state will also move to the next tier of essential workers for vaccine eligibility at that time, which includes those working in the following sectors: higher education, libraries, retail financial services, laundromats and dry cleaning, building and home industries, communication infrastructure, information technology, public utility, sanitation and the media.

“We know that there are many in these categories ... who have already received their vaccinations because they already qualify under a previous eligibility expansion," Murphy said. “But we’re now ready to push forward to include everyone on this list.”

Starting tomorrow, vaccine eligibility will expand to essential workers in food production and distribution, agriculture, eldercare and support, warehousing and logistics, social services, elections, hospitality, medical supply chain, postal and shipping services, clergy and the judicial system, The Daily Targum previously reported.

Murphy said the expansion is possible due to an increased number of vaccines, including a shipment of 494,430 doses coming to New Jersey next week, and the opening of a federally run pilot vaccination center tomorrow morning at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

The site will ramp up to administering 6,000 doses per day, seven days a week, and will go for at least eight weeks, focusing on reaching communities more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, he said. It will reach beyond the state’s usual allotment of vaccines.

Murphy said the state has set May 1 as a target date for granting vaccine eligibility to everyone in New Jersey age 16 and older in light of all these developments.

“We want everyone to have a date they can look forward to, and I know everyone is anxious to get their shot,” he said. “We set an initial goal ... of vaccinating 4.7 million New Jersey adults. We will not only get there but (also) I know we can exceed that goal together.”

As of today, the state has fully vaccinated 1,444,961 people, and 2,604,635 New Jerseyans have received at least one vaccine dose, according to New Jersey’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

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