As the nation gets ready for another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, state officials are plotting out how the booster shot will be administered.
A key element will be activating the megasites that were closed down earlier this year.
Gov. Phil Murphy explained at his press briefing on Sept. 1 that a “booster” is an additional dose for individuals who are not immunocompromised that will allow the immune system to boost up its defenses against the coronavirus.
This is different from a “third dose” a necessary additional dose of vaccine for individuals living with an immune system deficiency. New Jerseyans with immune-system deficiencies have been eligible to receive a third shot since Aug. 14—41,872 administered to those needing them so far.
Plan Next Week
The Murphy Administration has begun planning on how it will administer the booster shot, which it expects to unveil next week. Federal authorities are still debating if eligibility will be for a six or eight month window from when the initial round of an individual’s vaccination was completed starting Sept. 20. If it is a six month timeframe, 2.4 million people in New Jersey would become eligible right away for a booster shot, according to officials.
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Murphy warned that while the booster will result in an increase in vaccine demand, he is confident the state will have both the supply and the distribution capacity to serve everyone.
“We have proven to have one of the broadest and most efficient distribution and delivery programs in the entire country,” said Murphy. “While we have tremendous capacity at our vaccination sites now —we’ve got just about 1,500 of them—we are working hard to increase it further in anticipation of the booster and the demand that will go with it.”
Return of the Megasites
That includes the reactivation of the megasites, including possibly two in North Jersey—at the Meadowlands in Bergen County and the Rockaway Towne Mall in Morris County.
“We will almost certainly reopen several larger vaccination sites and megasites to serve the millions of individuals who will become eligible for booster sites this Fall,” said Murphy. “We believe we can serve both those getting their first doses, especially in high-risk and high-need areas, and those eligible for their boosters.”
State Offering Local Help
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli added that any county that has a gap or an access issue, state health officials will work with them to bring up testing sites.
“We will be prepared through megasites, county sites, and all of our existing sites to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Persichilli. “We will identify what the throughput has to be on a daily basis to make sure that everyone in New Jersey that’s eligible to be vaccinated with a booster gets vaccinated right now within a four-month period.”
Murphy estimated that the megasites would be needed for two or three months.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,135,129 in-state, plus an additional 404,540 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 11,539,669 as of Sept. 1. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,423,739 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 174,999 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,598,738, passing an 80% threshold.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,250,426 doses (611,508 fully vaccinated), Essex 958,404 doses (459,849), Hudson 870,560 doses (417,481), Morris 681,336 doses (332,234), Passaic 595,760 doses (287,069), Sussex 159,800 doses (79,058), and Warren 103,885 doses (50,872).
As of Sept. 1, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 953,616 with 1,841 total new PCR cases reported. There were 585 probable cases, bringing the overall total of antigen tests to 140,633. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,094,249.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 20 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,171. The state listed probable deaths at 2,731, bringing the overall count to 26,902. State officials noted 10 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Sept. 1, Bergen had a total of 162 new confirmed cases and 46 new probable cases, Essex 118 new cases and 19 new probable case, Hudson 112 new cases and 11 new probable cases, Morris 94 new confirmed cases and 36 new probable cases, Passaic 92 new cases and 31 new probable case, Sussex 20 new cases and 13 new probable cases, and Warren 21 new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,769, followed by Bergen at 2,618, Hudson with 2,124, Passaic at 1,758, Morris at 993, Sussex at 245, and Warren County at 217.
In regards to probable deaths reported Aug. 30, Essex has 306, Bergen has 304, Morris has 260, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,175,016 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Aug. 15, 12,242 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 307 COVID-related hospitalizations and 68 COVID-related deaths.
In the last week, breakthroughs accounted for 12.5% of all new cases (1,637 of 13,118), 3.8% of new hospilizations (31 of 807), and none of the 36 deaths—the fourth week in a row of no deaths from those fully vaccinated.
As for the rate of transmission reported Sept. 1, it declined to 1.08 from 1.11 the previous two days. The daily rate of infections from those tested Aug. 28 was 7.0%; by region, the rate was 5.6% in the North, 8.1% in the Central region and 8.4% in the South.
The state reported 1,065 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 397 in the North, 311 in the Central and 357 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 211 are in intensive care units and 108 on ventilators. A total of 151 patients were discharged.
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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 140 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 908 of the cases, broken down between 491 residents and 417 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,645 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,313 residents and 22,671 staff, for a total of 55,984.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,471 on Sept. 1. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,912 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.