Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order today requiring all workers in healthcare settings and high-risk congregate living facilities to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The requirement mandates that workers have both a primary course and booster shot and does not include a test out option.
Prior to today’s executive order, the state vaccine mandate for healthcare workers included a semi-regular test out option, but because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, Murphy said the test-out option will be nixed.
The federal mandate affects some 10 million workers at facilities that receive federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid, though the decision to uphold it came at the same time the court ruled that the Biden administration did not have the authority to force a vaccine mandate on large private employers.
Murphy said that unvaccinated healthcare workers in New Jersey will have until Jan. 27 to get their first COVID-19 vaccine dose and must complete their primary vaccination series by Feb. 28.
Conversely, unvaccinated workers in high risk congregate living facilities, such as correctional facilities and nursing homes, have until Feb. 28 to receive their first dose, and March 30 to get their second.
Workers in each setting who are vaccinated, but not currently boosted, are required to get boosted under the executive order. The deadlines are the same: Feb. 28 for healthcare workers and March 30 for congregate living workers. Those who become booster eligible after these cutoffs will have three weeks to get their additional dose.
Murphy said that exemptions will be given for disability, medical and deeply held religious beliefs.
“Anyone found in noncompliance will be subject to their workplace’s disciplinary process, up to and including termination,” Murphy said.
Despite 71% of New Jerseyans having completed their primary vaccination course, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases over the past four weeks in the state amounts to one quarter of the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic, according to Murphy.
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