With a COVID-19 vaccine expected to be approved as early as next week for children ages 5 to 11, state officials layed out their plans to deliver doses to this new cohort.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli offered a timeline that the state would be able to give the Pfizer vaccine to pediatrics following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention giving approval after a meeting on Nov. 2 and 3.
Health officials said there are 760,000 5- to 11-year-olds in the Garden State that will be eligible for the vaccine. The state has pre-ordered 205,000 of the pediatric Pfizer doses with designated sites receiving the vaccine to start immunizing children as soon as the approval is granted.
Where to Get Vaccine
“We can start pediatric dosing by (the next) morning,” said Persichilli at a press briefing Oct. 27. “It’ll be a two-dose regimen….one-third of the dose for teens and adults. We will be prepared to vaccinate younger children.”
All 21 counties will have sites prepared to vaccinate children including 65 primary care sites, 35 acute care hospital sites, 40 independent pharmacies, 27 FQHCs, eight chain pharmacies, seven local and county health department sites, six urgent care sites, and one megasite.
“In order to discriminate for the vaccinators, the Pfizer doses will be packaged in a different color,” Persichilli. “They will have a bright orange cap and lettering for the 5 to 11 year old doses.”
The department is actively working to have enough outlets that give parents and children places to go where they will feel safe, places to go where they have perhaps in the past trusted as a vaccination site.
Welcoming to Kids
“We want to make sure that any large site has a pediatric section that is welcoming to the parents and the kids so that children do not have to be afraid to get their immunizations in a large area,” said Persichilli. “Most importantly, we want to see as many pediatricians and primary care physicians that children are used to being prepared and ready to give vaccinations.”
A key component will be using the schools that kids attend as vaccine sites.
“We hope to have school-endorsed and school-based clinics for those kids that are used to getting their immunizations at the schools,” said the commissioner. “I’m getting great support from the school superintendents in setting up school-based clinics.”
Gov. Phil Murphy said a pediatric vaccine is a “gamechanger not just for keeping our schools safe but for further protecting all families and communities” that will continue to allow his administration to ease restrictions.
“As many people as possible who are eligible to be vaccinated is probably the best defense we’ve got,” said Murphy. “It’s necessary to our objective of one day being able to lift the mask mandate inside of a school building. It’s hard to do when you got a lot of the percentage of the population who aren’t eligible for the vaccine. We know that that’s a step that has to be precedent to that happening.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,364,347 in-state, plus an additional 469,512 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,833,859 as of Oct. 28. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,838,045 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 202,117 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,040,162.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 360,642 for Pfizer and 119,841 for Moderna. A total of 2,076 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,379,597 doses (646,870 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,067,769 doses (505,809), Hudson 955,497 doses (456,366), Morris 748,699 doses (348,935), Passaic 661,844 doses (314,952), Sussex 175,535 doses (84,267), and Warren 115,038 doses (54,803).
As of Oct. 28, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,039,007 with 1,554 total new PCR cases. There were 523 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 156,159. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,195,166.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 20 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 25,135. The state listed probable deaths at 2,814, bringing the overall total to 27,949. State officials noted 13 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 28, Bergen had a total of 111 new confirmed cases and 52 new probable cases, Essex 80 new cases and 13 new probable case, Hudson 78 new cases and 13 new probable cases, Morris 71 new confirmed cases and 34 new probable cases, Passaic 157 new cases and 10 new probable cases, Sussex 90 new cases and 16 new probable cases, and Warren 31 new cases and one new probable case.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 25, Essex has 310, Bergen has 309, Morris has 265, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 71 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,686,265 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Oct. 11, 40,237 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 884 COVID-related hospitalizations and 239 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Oct. 4-10, breakthroughs accounted for 21.9% of all new cases (2,766 of 12,644), 3.3% of new hospilizations (24 of 734), and one of the 192 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 28, it increased to 0.85 after two straight days of 0.83. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 23 was 5.2%; by region, the rate was 4.0% in the North, 6.4% in the Central region and 6.3% in the South.
The state reported 745 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 220 in the North, 224 in the Central and 301 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 182 are in intensive care units and 97 on ventilators. A total of 115 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 as of Oct. 27, the state has tracked 137 school outbreaks and 715 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 11 outbreaks and 57 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 613 students and 102 teachers across 19 counties.
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 as of Oct. 27, Passaic County has six confirmed outbreak with 87 cases, Bergen County has 11 confirmed outbreak with 53 cases, Sussex has 12 confirmed outbreak with 49 cases, Morris County has six confirmed outbreaks with 27 cases, Essex County has five confirmed outbreak with 20 cases and Hudson County has six confirmed outbreaks with 22 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 152 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,330 of the cases, broken down between 703 residents and 627 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,794 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,995 residents and 23,252 staff, for a total of 57,247.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,627 on Oct. 28. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,005 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.