New Jersey Officials Look to Confront COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

State officials are making a renewed push to make sure New Jerseyans receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to continue easing coronavirus restriction in New Jersey. 

“If there’s one thing you can do out there other than keep socially distancing and wearing your face covering, it’s to get vaccinated,” said Murphy at a press briefing April 26. “If you’ve been vaccinated and you know somebody who hasn’t been vaccinated, that’s the other thing you can do: Convince them to go get a vaccine shot.”

Murphy said making sure New Jersey meets its targets in vaccinations is key to easing restrictions past the activities and higher outdoor capacity limits set to go into effect May 10. The changes include higher outdoor gathering limits, higher large venue outdoor capacities, and higher maximum capacities for private catered events. 

Campaign Push

“Keep getting vaccinated. That’s an incredibly important step we need to pursue,” said Murphy. “In fact, it’s much riskier to not get vaccinated than it is to get vaccinated, and it’s not even close. Keep masking up. Keep being smart and using common sense. The more you keep doing all of these above, the sooner we can look forward to reopenings, and I’m optimistic that that time will come very soon.”

The push comes as the New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said  New Jersey is seeing demand for the COVID-19 vaccine slowing a bit with more appointments now open to the public. Coinciding with that expansion, NJDOH launched a vaccine promotional campaign to all audiences.

“Similar to how we rolled out the vaccine campaign in a phased process, we took the same approach with advertising,” said Persichilli. “We hope this wider messaging to all audiences who are now eligible will help move them to take action. We know we also need more strategic approaches to reach all residents.”

Broader Outreach

Additionally, NJDOH is partnering with church leaders and community leaders to create pop-up vaccination events to bring vaccines closer to where people live.

Persichilli noted 91% of individuals in the state that received their first dose have also received their second dose, improving to 93% beyond six weeks. This is higher than the nationally average of 88% had completed their series. 

Officials conceded there is some vaccine hesitancy that they have to fight through to reach their goal of over 4.7 million residents of New Jersey vaccinated by the end of June.

Demand Decline

“It is clear demand is off…this is less the anti-vaxxer block and this is much more a series of factors,” said Murphy. “A combination of the weather’s getting warmer; the numbers are going the right direction. I feel good. I haven’t gotten sick yet. I say with all due respect to all of that, those are not reasons enough. We need folks to get vaccinated.” 

Persichilli added “We have seen the demand decrease a bit because we’ve really vaccinated everybody that was really lined up, that first 3.6 million who registered That demand has been pretty well satisfied. Now we need to focus on specific cohorts—we’re going to be looking at schools, particularly colleges and universities.”

Both state officials proclaimed that a drop in demand was expected and planned for.

70% Guarantee

“I think frankly we expected it either last week or this week and it started last week. It was part of the reason why we jumped earlier from May 1st to April 19th to expand eligibility to everybody,” said Murphy. “My confidence remains high, that to clean up the balance of the folks we need to get to that 4.7 million number, we need a suite of proactive actions to get them.”

“We will reach that 70%, I can guarantee it,” stated Persichilli

The governor said the most persuasive arguments can be be made those who have been vaccinated, sharing their experiences with family members, neighbors, friends, or coworkers who are on the fence.

“Just remember one thing: the risk to your health of not getting this vaccine versus any modest risk associated with the vaccine is night and day,” opined Murphy. “You are at a much higher risk of a health incident if you do not get vaccinated.“

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 6,752,773 as of April 27. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,134,298 residents have received their first dose with 2,866,848 receiving their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose. 

Demographically, 55% of those vaccinated are women and 45% men. As for ethnicity, 55% are White, 11% Hispanic, 10% Asian, 10% other, 8% unknown and 6% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 33% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 27% are between the ages of 30-49, and 12% are between the ages of 16-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 752,125 doses (323,682 fully vaccinated), Essex 533,246 doses (216,712), Morris 464,102 doses (200,938), Hudson 432,095 doses (169,181), Passaic 320,506 doses (132,890), Sussex 104,235 doses (43,711), and Warren 66,843 doses (27,888). 

Daily Data

As of April 27, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 867,574 with 1,930 total new PCR cases reported. There were 362 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 123,436. The total number of individual cases for the state is 991,010. 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 60 new deaths, bringing that total to 22,849. The state listed probable deaths at 2,611, bringing the overall total to 25,460. State officials noted 22 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on April 27, Bergen had a total of 188 new confirmed cases and 44 probable cases, Essex 193 new cases and 31 probable cases, Hudson 168 new cases and 37 probable cases, Morris 78 new cases and 16 probable cases, Passaic 171 new cases and 27 probable cases, Sussex 32 new cases and seven probable cases, and Warren 31 cases and no new probable cases.

There are a total of 2,753 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 2,735 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 136 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 76 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and six cases of the South African (B.1351) variant. 

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,590, followed by Bergen at 2,525, Hudson with 2,001, Passaic at 1,660, Morris at 960, Sussex at 227 and Warren County at 206.

In regards to probable deaths reported April 21, Essex has 295, Bergen has 294, Morris has 249, Hudson has 210, Passaic has 195, Sussex has 67 and Warren has 25.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it declined to 0.88 from 0.90 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of April 22, was 6.4%; by region, the rate was 6.5% in the North, 5.6% in the Central region and 7.9% in the South. 

Officials reported 1,820 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 908, in the North, 490 in the Central and 422 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 394 are in intensive care units and 247 on ventilators. A total of 143 patients were discharged, while 150 were admitted.

Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, 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 87,553, followed by Essex at 83,210, Middlesex at 83,112, Hudson at 77,289, Monmouth at 66,080, Ocean at 64,374, Passaic at 63,883, Union at 59,082, Camden at 47,157, Morris at 41,257, Burlington at 37,270, Mercer at 30,789, Gloucester at 25,583, Atlantic at 24,253, Somerset at 23,655, Cumberland at 14,119, Sussex at 11,266, Hunterdon at 8,606, Warren at 8,612, Salem at 5,286, and Cape May at 4,443.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 12,854, followed by Union at 10,684, Ocean at 9,862, Essex at 9,133, Hudson at 8,897, Morris at 7,914, Monmouth at 7,854, Middlesex at 7,188, Passaic at 7,057, Atlantic at 6,483, Burlington at 6,288, Camden at 6,266, Somerset at 5,587, Cape May at 4,451, Gloucester at 3,813, Mercer at 2,280, Cumberland at 2,208, Sussex at 2,162, Warren at 978, Hunterdon at 858 and Salem 519.

Another 749 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 1,094 cases have been reported, with 18 new outbreaks accounting for 63 cases in the weekly update on April 27. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 52 confirmed outbreaks with 198 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 52 cases, Sussex has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 55 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has five confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 222 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 6,056 of the cases, broken down between 2,600 residents and 3,456 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,411 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,741 residents and 21,991 staff, for a total of 54,732 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,026 on April 27. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,868 residents deaths and 286 staff deaths.

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