Murphy Press Conference

State Vaccination Strategy to Initially Focus on 70% of Eligible Adults

Seventy percent of the state’s eligible adult population will hopefully receive a COVID-19 vaccine once it has been approved, Gov. Phil Murphy said during today’s COVID-19 press briefing.

“With the growing reality that one or more vaccines are months and not years away, I am proud to say these four words: We will be ready,” the governor said.

The state’s strategic plan to roll out vaccinations is threefold: provide equitable access to a vaccine; achieve maximum community protection; and build public trust in not just a COVID-19 vaccine, but vaccines that can protect residents from other potentially debilitating and deadly illnesses, Murphy said.

“We are keenly aware that COVID-19 has highlighted the stark disparities that have emerged across communities when it comes to vulnerabilities along racial and ethnic lines, along economic lines, and along lines drawn by age,” the governor said.

“At the same time, we are keenly aware that any vaccine roll out will likely come with a limited initial supply,” Murphy said. “Therefore, a proper vaccine program is a long-term proposition. However, we will work to quickly move across population segments and deliver vaccines into the communities that have been hardest hit, not just those that are easy to reach.”

The governor said federal funding to help roll out a vaccination program is essential. However, “the federal administration has so far indicated no interest in providing further financial assistance, whether it’s to New Jersey or any other state,” Murphy said. “The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the Association of Immunization Managers have sent a joint letter to congressional leadership calling for an additional $8.1 billion to support a national state-based program. … If we do not receive any additional federal funds, achieving a 70% vaccination rate will take many years, if it even happens at all.”

The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) submitted its first draft of the state’s vaccination plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 10 days ago. Murphy said the document is the product of months of collaboration with the Office of Emergency Management, other state agencies, local health departments and the state’s DOH.

Murphy stressed that the vaccination plan is a work in progress. He also warned against online rumors and social media conspiracy theories that would “jeopardize our ability to build statewide immunity against the deadly virus. This skepticism could prove to be as deadly as the virus itself. We are committed to building trust in the vaccine in all of our communities, and we will not wait until we receive the vaccine to start that [trust] process.”

Looking at the latest COVID-19 numbers, the governor reported: an additional 1,140 new cases for a state total of 229,683; approximately 14,496 deaths; a testing positivity rate of 4.48%; and a transmission rate of 1.23.

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