State Sen. Paul Sarlo: Give J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Directly to Towns to Vaccinate Teachers, Seniors Quicker

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36) wants state officials to hit the reset button on the distribution of vaccines with the emergency authorization approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine March 1.

“The 70,000 doses heading to New Jersey and all future (Johnson & Johnson) doses should be reserved for senior citizens and school staff until those groups are all fully vaccinated,” said Sarlo in a press statement Feb. 27. “Give me 200 J&J doses in Wood-Ridge and I’ll have our schools open five days a week the next day. Give me 1,000 and I’ll have all my seniors done in one week.”

Sarlo believes towns have the facilities, resources, knowledge and logistical ability to get the vaccine out quickly to senior citizens and teachers.

J&J Gamechanger

“The release of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a game changer because it requires only a single dose and it doesn’t need to be kept in ultra-cold freezers,” explained Sarlo. “This makes it perfect to distribute directly to local towns so they can vaccinate their senior citizens and teachers without the bureaucratic and technological logjam of the current vaccine enrollment system.”

The Wood-Ridge mayor listed attributes the town could deploy to distribute the vaccine to teachers and seniors at a quicker pace, including community centers, school gyms, school and senior citizen busses, contact lists of seniors from local clubs, churches and civic groups.

“We have school nurses as well as other nurses and doctors who live in town and want to help,” said Sarlo. “Our teachers, custodians and secretaries are already here in the schools every day. I could have my Wood-Ridge Senior Citizens Center set up this weekend and start giving vaccines on Monday.”

Helping Seniors

Sarlo noted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is easy for local towns to handle and administer, will be less onerous on senior citizens, and will enable schools to reopen much sooner.

“We don’t need to have special freezers and we don’t need a computer tracking system to make sure people come back for their second dose,” he said. 

Sarlo added “Senior citizens won’t have to worry about using a computer to get an appointment and won’t have to travel a far distance two times to be vaccinated. Teachers could walk down the hallway to the gym, get vaccinated, and be back in their classrooms twenty minutes later.”

Daily Data

The cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey for the last weekend of February was 701,725 with 5,812 total new PCR cases reported over the two day. There were 1,059 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 87,631. The total number of individual cases for the state is 789,356. Gov. Murphy previously 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 64 new deaths combined Feb. 27 and 28, bringing that total to 20,921. The state listed probable deaths at 2,331, bringing the overall total to 23,252. State officials noted 59 deaths occurred in the last 48 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on Feb. 28, Bergen had a total of 222 new confirmed cases, Hudson 195 new cases, Essex 187 new cases, Passaic 168 new cases, Morris 122 new cases, Warren 25 cases, and Sussex 17 new cases.

State officials have identified a total of 53 cases of the B117 UK coronavirus variant in 12 counties in New Jersey, including eight in Essex County, four in Morris County, three in Hudson, and two each in Passaic and Warren counties.

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,408, followed by Bergen at 2,336, Hudson with 1,825, Passaic at 1,514, Morris at 895, Sussex at 209 and Warren County at 197.

In regards to probable deaths reported Feb. 24, Bergen has 281, Essex has 269, Morris has 227, Hudson has 180, Passaic has 173, Sussex has 64 and Warren has 19.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 0.91 from 0.89 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Feb. 24, was 6.6%; by region, the rate was 7.0% in the North, 6.7% in the Central region and 5.3% in the South. 

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 1,849 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 910 in the North, 601 in the Central and 338 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 393 are in intensive care units and 229 on ventilators. Over the weekend, a total of 515 patients were discharged, while 358 were admitted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 68,843, followed by Middlesex at 67,618, Essex at 67,451, Hudson at 63,608, Passaic at 52,049, Ocean at 51,960, Monmouth at 51,549, Union at 49.035, Camden at 39,419, Morris at 32,112, Burlington at 30,893, Mercer at 26,152, Gloucester at 21,048, Atlantic at 19,730, Somerset at 18,659, Cumberland at 12,145, Sussex at 7,948, Warren at 6,335, Hunterdon at 6,301, Salem at 4,232, and Cape May at 3,697.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 8,694, followed by Union at 7,721, Ocean at 6,664, Essex at 6,267, Hudson at 5,669, Morris at 5,430, Monmouth at 5,329, Atlantic at 5,106, Middlesex at 4,999, Passaic at 4,791, Camden at 4,730, Burlington at 4,476, Somerset at 4,166, Cape May at 3,528, Gloucester at 3,097, Cumberland at 2,145, Mercer at 1,638, Sussex at 1,179, Warren at 728, Hunterdon at 626, and Salem 455.

Another 941 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 152 outbreaks involving 737 cases, with 10 new outbreaks accounting for 66 cases reported in the weekly update on Feb. 24. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 37 confirmed outbreaks with 155 cases, Passaic County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren has eight confirmed outbreaks with 20 cases, Morris County has four confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 1,960.629 as of Feb. 27. Of those who have received the vaccine, 1,295,891 residents have received their first dose with 663,855 their second; 54% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 46% the Pfizer. 

Demographically, 58% of those vaccinated are women and 42% men. As for ethnicity, 56% are White, 15% unknown, 14% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 4% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 42% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 24% are between the ages of 40-49, and 8% are between the ages of 18-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 223,170 doses, Essex 156,101 doses, Morris 144,748 doses, Passaic 88,570 doses, Hudson 91,200 doses, Sussex 29,418 doses, and Warren 17,917 doses. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 342 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 12,951 of the cases, broken down between 6,413 residents and 6,538 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,263 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,230 residents and 20,977 staff, for a total of 53,297 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,906 on Feb. 26. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,817 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.


  1. Sen. Sarlo’s proposal makes so much sense that the State will ignore it so as to retain New Jersey’s Number 1 ranking in covid deaths per 100,000 population. That Number 1 ranking is due to to the ignorance and/or negligence and/or ineptitude of the State government, particularly the Public Health bureaucracy and there seems to be no improvement (witness the State’s vaccine appointments system that failed miserably and is still unavailable after three weeks of being shut down for “fine tuning.”) The Federal government was right to push vaccine distribution and administration down one level of government and that principle makes sense when and where it is possible: keep it as local as possible.

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