Over the weekend, the New Jersey Department of Health vaccination partners began administering COVID-19 booster doses to eligible individuals.
The action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sept. 24 provides for the administration of booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after completion of the primary series to help increase protection for the following:
- people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings ;
- people age 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions;
- people age 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
- people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional settings, including healthcare workers, may receive a booster shot, based on their individual benefits and risks.
Defining Underlying Conditions
Underlying medical conditions include individuals with cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung diseases, dementia or other neurological conditions, diabetes, down syndrome, heart conditions, HIV infection, weakened immune system, liver disease, overweight and obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, current or former smoker, and organ or blood stem cell transplant.
Persichilli added among those workers who are eligible under the CDC occupational or institutional settings include transit workers, first responders and grocery workers among others.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli stated at a press briefing Sept. 27 that “individuals will self-identify according to the categories and will not be required by vaccination providers to provide proof of a medical condition or a note from a medical provider in order to receive a booster dose in New Jersey.”
1,000 Pfizer Sites Open
There are more that 1,600 vaccination sites across New Jersey of which more than 1,000 of which offer the Pfizer vaccine—the Department of Health officials said that continuing to work to add additional sites. Each county is to have a standalone location for the booster shots, state official noted.
Several pharmacy chains, supermarkets and big box stores began offering the Pfizer booster shots to walk-in customers over the weekend. Walk-in booster shots were being offered at CVS, Rite-Aid, ShopRite as well as Walmart and Sam’s Club. The companies do recommend New Jerseyans make an appointment to ensure doses are still available at the pharmacy of their choice.
Persichilli said efforts will include identifying homebound individuals and that individuals who received Pfizer can reach out directly to their local health department or complete the intake form available at covid19.nj.gov/homeboundvax. Assistance is available by phone to complete the survey.
Moderna, J&J On Deck
Gov. Phil Murphy noted residents who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not yet eligible for the booster shots authorized by the federal government.
In a statement, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said the CDC “will also evaluate with similar urgency available data in the coming weeks to swiftly make additional recommendations for other populations or people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.”
The state will open one mega site in Gloucester County at the end of this week as 1.4 million New Jersey residents are now eligible.
“We believe we can manage appointments but we anticipate there will be a supply and demand issue at some point,” said Murphy. “My guess is that we will have some of (that demand issue), but nowhere remotely near the same level” that occurred in the time period from when the first shot was on Dec. 15, 2020 to about Easter 2021.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,647,600 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state, another 185,252 out of state, and 108,397 a booster shot, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,832,852.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,606,740 in-state, plus an additional 431,321 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,038,061 as of Sept. 27.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,295,881 doses (631,102 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,008,066 doses (484,383), Hudson 912,731 doses (439,483), Morris 702,204 doses (341,080), Passaic 626,158 doses (302,569), Sussex 165,372 doses (81,860), and Warren 108,202 doses (53,128).
As of Sept. 27, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 998,454 with 1,315 total new PCR cases. There were 224 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 149,904. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,148,358.
As for those that have passed, the state reported nine confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,559. The state listed probable deaths at 2,787, bringing the overall total to 27,346. State officials noted 11 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Sept. 27, Bergen had a total of 122 new confirmed cases and 25 new probable cases, Essex 46 new cases and seven new probable case, Hudson 66 new cases and 12 new probable cases, Morris 63 new confirmed cases and nine new probable cases, Passaic 84 new cases and six new probable cases, Sussex 32 new cases and one new probable case, and Warren 18 new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,810, followed by Bergen at 2,647, Hudson with 2,141, Passaic at 1,781, Morris at 1,016, Sussex at 250, and Warren County at 223.
In regards to probable deaths reported Sept. 27, Essex has 311, Bergen has 306, Morris has 265, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,421.060 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 13, 25,991 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 537 COVID-related hospitalizations and 126 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 7-Sept. 12, breakthroughs accounted for 22.8% of all new cases (2,449 of 10,760), 3.7% of new hospilizations (32 of 863), and two of the 55 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Sept. 27, it declined to 1.01 from the 1.04 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Sept. 23 was 4.6%; by region, the rate was 4.1% in the North, 5.2% in the Central region and 4.9% in the South.
The state reported 1,047 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 341 in the North, 342 in the Central and 364 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 232 are in intensive care units and 135 on ventilators. A total of 104 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
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.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, the state has tracked 23 school outbreaks and 102 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7. Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has one confirmed outbreak with four cases, Sussex has one confirmed outbreak with four cases, Morris County has three confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, and Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with nine cases. No outbreaks were reported in Essex, Passaic and Warren counties.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 151 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,213 of the cases, broken down between 674 residents and 539 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,714 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,612 residents and 22,947 staff, for a total of 56,559.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,532 on Sept. 27. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,953 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.