NJ Top News 1/19 – Back to Normal by Memorial Day? Don’t Count On It
If a return to normalcy hinges of mass vaccinations in New Jersey, it's going to be a while.
New Jersey continues to fall behind initial projections from both state and federal officials about how quickly COVID-19 vaccinations would be distributed and administered. The shortage of vaccine coming from the federal government and logistical issues on a statewide basis are contributing to far fewer being vaccinated than anticipated.
Despite Gov. Phil Murphy opening up eligibility to millions of additional residents, appointments for vaccinations quickly filled up and those who were able to schedule will have to wait weeks or months for their shot.
According to figures from the state Department of health, just over 366,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered. That is less than 6% of what state health officials say is needed for herd immunity. Vaccinating 70% of the adult population is the magic number Murphy has repeatedly cited for a full reopening of the state.
It was hoped New Jersey could reach at least the 50% threshold by Memorial Day. That now seems unlikely. Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says we will only receive 100,000 doses a week over the next four weeks, and she expressed little hope those numbers would increase anytime soon.
If every one of those doses are given, it would still be less than 10% of the 4.4 million people who need the shots for herd immunity. With tens of thousands due for the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the number of first-time vaccinations will also be reduced. Before a vaccination event in Old Bridge on Tuesday, Persichilli assured those second doses would be given on time, "But I can't assure increasing numbers of people will be able to get their first dose."
Murphy says the state is capable of giving out 470,000 doses per week. If enough vaccine were available right now, and factoring in the required two-doses given weeks apart, it would take approximately 18 weeks to meet the 70% vaccination threshold. That would take us past Memorial Day and into June.
If President-Elect Joe Biden makes good on his promise to deliver more vaccine and inoculating one million Americans in 100 days, the earliest New Jersey might reach 70% would be mid to late July.
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