With a COVID-19 vaccine now available to children as young as five in New Jersey, state officials are hopeful this will boost health metrics continue on a downward trend.
Gov. Phil Murphy noted that with indoor gatherings increasing due to the weather turning colder and the holiday season ahead, anyone who is eligible should get the vaccine as well as a booster shot if eligible.
“The vaccines work. Period. The report card, if we were to give one, based on real world experience bears this out—99% is an A+ any way you look at it, and the vaccines are cumulatively showing this and better across the board,” said Murphy at a press briefing Nov. 1.
Health Metrics Improving
State officials noted the weekly numbers continue to see a far greater percentage of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from among the unvaccinated, even though they make up a smaller and smaller minority of residents.
“I know there’s really nothing we can say from this table that will lead most of those who remain unvaccinated to change their minds, but these numbers just hammer home the point that the vaccines are safe and that they work,” he said.
Get Kids Vaccinated
The push comes as children from the ages 5-11 became eligible to receive the vaccine on Nov. 3. There are approximately 760,000 children in this age group in New Jersey now eligible. Approximately 203,800 doses of pediatric vaccine have started to arrive in the state. According to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), the doses are in the process of being distributed to more than 230 sites including primary care practices, independent and chain pharmacies, county and local sites, federally qualified health centers, acute care hospitals, urgent care and university sites, and the Gloucester County megasite. The state expects ongoing weekly shipments from the federal government.
The governor cautioned that residents should not feel a false sense of security because key health metrics such as hospitalizations and new cases have been declining for the past two week. He pointed to rate of transmission rising for the last five days and is now over one, registering at 1.01.
“This pandemic – every time you think you got this thing licked, it comes back at you. I’m hoping that those days are over, but just because the numbers are getting better, I would plead with people, don’t use that as the excuse not to get vaccinated, including for your children,” said Murphy.
“We do not know the future here. I wish I could say otherwise. I hope I’m wrong when I say we run the risk that the numbers go back up again when we get inside and celebrate holidays, but specifically just because the numbers right now are getting better is no reason to not get vaccinated.”
Health officials stressed that the vaccine’s for kids is safe, with NJDOH’s Medical Advisor Dr. Ed Lifshitz stating “any risk from the vaccine is clearly lower than the virus itself.”
Lifshitz noted that with families set to gather for the holidays, vaccinating a child offers protection not just for them but the whole family.
“If I wanted to protect my entire extended family, I would start by trying to get the kids vaccinated, similar to what we do, by the way, every year with flu,” he said. “We vaccinate kids for the flu largely because they can transmit it to older people, particularly in their family, for whom it’s a whole lot more deadly.”
Murphy added that “getting our kids under the age of 12 fully vaxxed up before Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, is good timing.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,576,325 in-state, plus an additional 481,930 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,058,255 as of Nov. 3. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,872,295 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 206,707 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,079,002.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 410,577 for Pfizer and 199,393 for Moderna. A total of 6,184 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 616,154.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,399,533 doses (649,710 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,086,233 doses (509,544), Hudson 968,782 doses (459,227), Morris 760,543 doses (350,421), Passaic 671,176 doses (316,849), Sussex 179,144 doses (84,762), and Warren 117,373 doses (55,098).
As of Nov. 2, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,044,964 with 1,026 total new PCR cases. There were 339 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 157,287. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,202,251.
As for those that have passed, the state reported seven confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 25,195. The state listed probable deaths at 2,816, bringing the overall total to 28,011. State officials noted 12 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Nov. 3, Bergen had a total of 98 new confirmed cases and 33 new probable cases, Essex 60 new cases and 12 new probable case, Hudson 63 new cases and 12 new probable cases, Morris 40 new confirmed cases and 24 new probable cases, Passaic 46 new cases and five new probable cases, Sussex 34 new cases and 11 new probable cases, and Warren 17 new cases and no new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,848, followed by Bergen at 2,689, Hudson with 2,167, Passaic at 1,809, Morris at 1,039, Sussex at 266, and Warren County at 229.
In regards to probable deaths reported Nov. 1, Essex has 310, Bergen has 309, Morris has 266, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 71 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,730,278 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Oct. 18, 42,358 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 911 COVID-related hospitalizations and 249 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Oct. 11-17, breakthroughs accounted for 19.2% of all new cases (2,199 of 11,450, 3.3% of new hospilizations (24 of 725), and two of the 123 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Nov. 2, it increased to 0.99 from 0.96 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 28 was 3.6%; by region, the rate was 3.0% in the North, 4.0% in the Central region and 4.5% in the South.
The state reported 680 patients were hospitalized, the lowest since Aug. 9; by region, there were 244 in the North, 192 in the Central (below 200 for the first time since Aug. 8) and 244 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 170 are in intensive care units and 97 on ventilators. A total of 63 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 136 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,316 of the cases, broken down between 704 residents and 612 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,797 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,966 residents and 23,185 staff, for a total of 57,151.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,639 on Nov. 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,997 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.