NJ Expands Vaccine Eligibility As Murphy Vows To Prioritize Equity

New Jersey will allow people ages 55 and older and additional groups of essential workers to qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine starting on April 5th. 

Governor Phil Murphy says anyone working in laundromats, dry cleaners, higher education, libraries, sanitation, construction, media, or plumbing will qualify. Additionally, those over the age of 16 with an intellectual or developmental disability will also be eligible. 

“We want everyone to have a date they can look forward to and I know everyone is anxious to get their shot,” Murphy said during a visit to a vaccination site at Kean University on Friday. 

Murphy had previously announced that workers in restaurants, warehouses, grocery stores, hospitality, and postal services will become eligible for vaccination on March 29th. 

Murphy said the state will receive nearly 500,000 doses next week—a 19% increase in supply. With a boost in vaccines, he said the state is on track to meet President Joe Biden’s deadline to open vaccine eligibility to those 16 or older by May 1st. 

Inside the Kean University vaccine site, which has dozens of chairs socially distanced from each other; only a few people are inside

At the Kean University vaccine site on March 26, 2021 NJ Governor’s office

“For folks out there who are still trying to get an appointment and you’re anxious, we don’t blame you,” Murphy said. “There is still a supply-demand imbalance but that is going to go away.” 

Murphy wants 70% of the adult population, or 4.7 million people, vaccinated by June. So far, 1.3 million people have been fully vaccinated with more than 3.7 million doses administered. 

Vaccine equity, however, is a growing concern. Only 7% of doses have been administered to Latinx residents and 5% to Black residents, even though the two groups combined make up more than a third of the state’s population. 

A federally-run community vaccination site will open in Newark on Monday in part as a way to help address those disparities, Murphy announced. The site at NJIT will eventually administer 6,000 doses a day, to be provided by FEMA on top of the state’s vaccine allocation.

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state has also purchased three vans that will be outfitted as mobile vaccination units that will be dispatched into hard-to-reach communities starting in three weeks. 

“It is incumbent upon us working with county and local officials, health departments up and down the state to get vaccinations into the broad diversity and broad representation of this state,” Murphy said. “We promise you that will happen and will happen soon.”