New Jersey Officials Hope Pause of J&J COVID-19 Vaccine is Short Lived

State officials sought to reassure New Jerseyans the pause in administering Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines should not dissuade residents from getting vaccinated.

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli pointed out—on the day the state passed 25,000 coronavirus related deaths since last March—no one in the Garden State has had a serious adverse reaction from the roughly 240,000 doses of J&J vaccine administered in the state similar to the six cases being investigated by federal health agencies. 

“Your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 is much greater than experiencing this very rare side effect,” said Persichilli at a press briefing April 14. “It is vital that you get your vaccine (in a state) where we have lost 1 in 500 New Jerseyans (to COVID-19).”

Federal Action

The pause in the J&J vaccine remains in effect as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration continue their investigation into the safety of the vaccine. The stoppage is due to six blood clot cases occurring among women between the ages of 18 and 48, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets. As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

Gov. Phil Murphy and state health officials hoped the review process would move swiftly and speculated there would be restrictions placed on who could receive the J&J vaccine going forward. 

Extremely Rare Cases 

“To be sure, these six cases each appear to be extremely rare,” stated Murphy, adding the pause mandated by federal authorities is coming out of an abundance of caution. 

“No one who has received the J&J vaccine should panic or worry,” said Murphy. “This review is critical to our efforts to ensure confidence in our vaccination program and the vaccines themselves.”

Persichilli noted that the more vulnerable communities, including those homebound, homeless and seasonal farm workers, are the most affected by the pause. Vaccination sites throughout the state were able to reschedule appointments or replace the J&J offering with either the double-jab Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. 

Meeting June Goal

Despite the pause on one of the three vaccines being issued in the state, Murphy expressed confidence the state will hit its vaccination goal before July. 

“Even with this pause, our overall goal of vaccinating 4.7 million adult New Jerseyans by the end of June remains in place and entirely achievable,” said Murphy. “This pause has no effect on Monday’s opening of vaccine eligibility to all New Jerseyans ages 16 and over. We will keep pushing forward with the tools available to us.”

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 5,641,115 as of April 14. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,589,123 residents have received their first dose with 2,292,316 receiving their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose; 52% have been administered the Pfizer vaccine, 44% the Moderna vaccine and 4% the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Demographically, 56% of those vaccinated are women and 44% men. As for ethnicity, 57% are White, 10% other, 9% unknown, 9% Hispanic, 9% Asian and 6% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 38% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 25% are between the ages of 40-49, and 9% are between the ages of 18-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 633,350 doses, Essex 434,198 doses, Morris 395,037 doses, Hudson 337,906 doses, Passaic 257,502 doses, Sussex 86,898 doses, and Warren 55,942 doses. 

Daily Data

As of April 14, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 845,201 with 2,828 total new PCR cases reported. There were 958 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 118,283. The total number of individual cases for the state is 963,484. 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 43 new deaths, bringing that total to 22,414. The state listed probable deaths at 2,592, bringing the overall total to 25,006. State officials noted 24 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on April 14, Bergen had a total of 298 new confirmed cases and 104 probable cases, Essex 322 new cases and 72 probable cases, Hudson 231 new cases and 80 probable cases, Morris 109 new cases and 44 probable cases, Passaic 207 new cases and 77 probable cases, Sussex 51 new cases and 33 probable cases, and Warren 41 cases and nine new probable cases.

There are a total of 1,164 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 1,130 cases of the U.K. variant, 19 cases of the Brazilian P1 variant, 11 cases of the California variants, and two cases of the South African variant. 

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,541, followed by Bergen at 2,480, Hudson with 1,966, Passaic at 1,634, Morris at 950, Sussex at 222 and Warren County at 204.

In regards to probable deaths reported April 14, Bergen has 294, Essex has 291, Morris has 246, Hudson has 206, Passaic has 195, Sussex has 67 and Warren has 25.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 0.92 from 0.93 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of April 10, was 11.0%; by region, the rate was 11.0% in the North, 10.9% in the Central region and 11.4% in the South. 

Officials reported 2,281 patients were hospitalized; 2,140 cases were confirmed and 141 are under investigation. By region, there were 1,145 in the North, 706 in the Central and 430  in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 457 are in intensive care units and 254 on ventilators. A total of 297 patients were discharged, while 271 were admitted.

Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospilizations, intensive care units, ventilators 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.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 84,796, followed by Essex at 82,178, Middlesex at 81,654, Hudson at 75,836, Monmouth at 64,517, Ocean at 62,913, Passaic at 61,355, Union at 57,415, Camden at 45,534, Morris at 40,257, Burlington at 36,230, Mercer at 30,185, Gloucester at 24,757, Atlantic at 23,587, Somerset at 22,971, Cumberland at 13,691, Sussex at 10,783, Hunterdon at 8,254, Warren at 8,197, Salem at 5,017, and Cape May at 4,313.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 12,322, followed by Union at 10,232, Ocean at 9,455, Essex at 8,717, Hudson at 8,469, Monmouth at 7,548, Morris at 7,484, Middlesex at 6,886, Passaic at 6,755, Atlantic at 6,318, Burlington at 5,999, Camden at 5,960, Somerset at 5,394, Cape May at 4,312, Gloucester at 3,706, Cumberland at 2,193, Mercer at 2,157, Sussex at 2,035, Warren at 914, Hunterdon at 817 and Salem 505.

Another 761 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 245 outbreaks involving 1,070 cases have been reported, with five new outbreaks accounting for 24 cases in the weekly update on April 14. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 52 confirmed outbreaks with 198 cases, Passaic County has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 50 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Sussex has 12 confirmed outbreaks with 48 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has four confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 231 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 6,844 of the cases, broken down between 3,020 residents and 3,824 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,373 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,654 residents and 21,758 staff, for a total of 54,412 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,006 on April 13. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,860 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.

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