OPINION: A Battle of Variants vs. Vaccinations in New Jersey

New Jersey Department of Health’s Commissioner Judith Persichilli summed the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic best this week when she stated “All of the country’s in a race to vaccinate as variants are contributing to the surges.”

Two things can be true at the same time during a pandemic: Significant progress is being made at the same time the virus is spreading for a third time.

Gov. Phil Murphy presented a worst case scenario this week where New Jersey reaches a high of over 8,000 new coronavirus cases in one day in both May and June while hospitals are filled with more than 3,500 patients over the same two months. A moderate case forecasts the peak of new cases reaching approximately 5,500 new positive tests and 2,700 hospitalizations mid-April.  

That information was then backed up by Persichilli highlighting in March new cases of the virus have spiked among those aged between 40 and 60 years of age. 

“These sustained increases of hospitalizations and COVID activity demonstrate that we are definitely in another wave of this virus,” said Persichilli. “There is still an uncertainty ahead with this relentless virus that continues to change.”

That is in contrast to the good news that surrounds the COVID-19 vaccination program in the Garden State as the state’s allocation of vaccines from the federal government continues to rise. 

And despite the justified frustrations of residents who have not received the vaccine, the state has been doing one of the best jobs in the country of vaccinating its residents. Murphy noted this week New Jersey is third at 88% among all states in terms of the percentage of vaccine supply getting into the arms of New Jerseyans. The two states ahead are Minnesota, with about half the residents of the Garden State, and North Dakota, which has a population less than either Bergen or Essex County. 

Additionally, New Jersey ranks in the top ten of doses administered daily and in the percentage of our population having received at least one dose with the distinction of having the largest population of any of the states in the top ten.

We, like everyone else, have pandemic fatigue. We are tired of wearing a mask or two, staying socially distant, and trying to figure who among our family and friends is safe to hug, kiss or even invite into our homes.

These are the actions we have all taken over the last 13 months that reduced cases before a vaccine was available and need to be continued for the foreseeable future. But it is a future where we can gather like we used to that is much closer than before.  


  1. People like myself, who are elderly and have a loved one we are being a caregiver for, are the forgotten people. No hope of ever getting a vaccine because my wife, the one I am a caregiver for, cannot stand in line for hours nor can she travel great distances. And for the last four to six months I have filled out some web site forms, never to be notified about anything. I am 78 and my wife will be 75 this May. When people ask me why I haven’t been vaccinated I say, “They have to vaccinate chimpanzees and baboons first.” To some that may sound funny. Not to me or my wife.

    1. Contact your local borough offices. Many have staff who will assist seniors in locating an appointment. There is actually a call center now for seniors to bypass the online vaccine process. Please don’t give up!

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