New Jersey will expand the COVID vaccine eligibility to people 65 and older within days following a change in federal guidelines.
Two additional categories of New Jersey residents will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination beginning Jan. 14. The categories are residents aged 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus.
The federal government changed its recommendations Jan. 12 on vaccines as well indicated it will increase efforts to speed up vaccine delivery by sending more doses and not holding back doses in reserve for second shots.
4.5 Million Newly Eligible
“Over the last several months, our administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing Jan. 13. “We are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”
The conditions for those in the 16-64 age range include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes. Individuals who are pregnant and those in an immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant are also eligible but should follow CDC guidance and first discuss vaccination with their medical provider before receiving the vaccine.
In total, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli estimated 4.5 million residents—1.5 million 65 and older; 2 million smokers and up to 1 million with other chronic health conditions—are now eligible to receive the vaccine.
Expanding Past 1A,1B
“Expanding access to the vaccine to individuals in these categories is critical as we know they are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death,” said Persichilli, citing that 80% of COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey have been among those 65 and older and 67% overall had one or more underlying conditions. “Smoking puts you at significant risk for an adverse result from COVID-19 and there are 2 million smokers in New Jersey who fit into these categories.”
Currently, healthcare workers and long-term healthcare workers in Phase 1A and law enforcement and fire professionals in Phase 1B are eligible to be administered the vaccine.
State officials have set up a preregistered program at covidvaccine.nj.gov. Once registered, residents will receive an email that provides the appointment time and the site chosen to be administered the first dose.
The state’s protocol calls for the next wave in the Phase 1B group were to include adults who are over age 75, foodservice workers, educators, support staff and daycare workers, public transit workers and members of the media, according to the state’s updated.
Murphy did plead for patience as the eligibility expansion could lead to lengthy wait times for appointments of up to eight weeks, depending on how quickly the state can get additional doses from the federal government.
On Jan. 13, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 543,974 with 6,922 total new PCR cases reported. There were 668 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 58,655. The total number of individual cases for the state is 602,629. Gov. Murphy noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 95 new deaths, bringing that total to 18,070. The state listed probable deaths at 2,091, bringing the overall total to 20,167. State officials noted 62 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 643 new confirmed cases and 150 probable cases, Essex 607 new cases and 70 probable cases, Hudson 618 new cases and 69 probable cases, Morris 276 new cases and and 59 probable cases, Passaic 384 new cases and and 52 probable cases, Sussex 82 new cases and 20 probable cases, and Warren 74 cases and five probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,202, followed by Bergen at 2,130, Hudson with 1,599, Passaic at 1,365, Morris at 817, Sussex at 183 and Warren County at 173.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 267, Essex has 257, Hudson has 170, Morris at 194, Passaic at 159, Sussex has 51 and Warren has 14.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 9, was 13.5%; by region, the rate was 13.2% in the North, 14.4% in the Central region and 13.1% in the South. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one.
As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 1.10 from 1.08 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 3,726 patients were hospitalized with 3,448 confirmed cases and 278 under investigation. By region, there were 1,522 in the North, 1,222 in the Central and 982 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 648 are in intensive care units and 452 on ventilators. While 438 patients were discharged, 460 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 52,734, followed by Essex at 52,563, Middlesex at 51,590, Hudson at 49,743, Passaic at 43,122, Union at 40,363, Ocean at 37,904, Monmouth at 37,794, Camden at 32,492, Burlington at 24,745, Morris at 23,334, Mercer at 20,997, Gloucester at 16,536, Atlantic at 14,368, Somerset at 14,303, Cumberland at 9,163, Sussex at 5,599, Warren at 4,644, Hunterdon at 4,523, Salem at 3,367, and Cape May at 2,740.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 5,620, followed by Union at 5,553, Essex at 4,261, Ocean at 4,167, Hudson at 3,889, Morris at 3,686, Atlantic at 3,514, Middlesex at 3,445, Passaic at 3,395, Monmouth at 3,323, Somerset at 2,987, Camden at 2,965, Cape May at 2,522, Burlington at 2,455, Gloucester at 2,114, Cumberland at 1,657, Mercer at 1,083, Sussex at 689, Warren at 476, Hunterdon at 429, and Salem 362.
Another 1,350 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 111 outbreaks involving 564 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with no outbreaks in the last week.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 102 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has five confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, Warren has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 83 cases. Morris is the only county in the state without an outbreak.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 454 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 13,781 of the cases, broken down between 6,590 residents and 7,191 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,190 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 31,051 residents and 20,258 staff, for a total of 51,309 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,628 on Jan. 13. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,522 residents deaths and 126 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 264,681 as of Jan. 13. Of those who have received the vaccine, 236,503 residents have received their first dose with 28,045 their second; 52% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 48% the Pfizer. Demographically, 64% of those vaccinated are women and 36% men. As for ethnicity, 46% are White, 20% unknown, 19% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 4% Black.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 29,354 doses, Essex 21,146 doses, Hudson 10,950 doses, Morris 19,335 doses, Passaic 11,978 doses, Sussex 4,175 doses, and Warren 2,731 doses.