When it comes to getting the COVID-19 booster shot, Gov. Phil Murphy has a simple message: Don’t over analyze and just get the shot.
At their weekly COVID-19 press briefing, Murphy and health officials sought to demystify who is and isn’t eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster. While there has been a slow and steady uptick in residents getting the booster, only 24% of the four million in New Jersey that are eligible have received a third dose of Moderna or Pfizer or a second shot of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine since September.
“If you are in doubt (if you’re eligible), just get the darn booster,” said Murphy.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli rattled off a long list of those eligible, which boiled down to three separate qualifications: six months out from the Moderna and Pfixer dose or two months out for the Johnson & Johnson offering; 65 years or older; and 18 years or older with preexisting conditions or being employed in a high risk setting.
But it was Murphy who went past hinting when he said New Jersey will soon move to a more simplified requirement like some other states in the U.S. have done: 18 years or older and the timing of your last shot.
“We are going to make (the messaging) more simple in the days ahead,” he stated.
In answering why the step has not been taken yet to allow anyone over 18 to be eligible, Murphy cited wanting to be in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and then offered that “there’s not much, I will speak for myself, that is preventing us from saying you know what, if you are six month out or two months out and over 18, go get’em. If you read between the lines, that is what I am saying today.”
“We want to make sure we get this right, we want to make sure the health and medical experts bless that,” the Governor commented on what it has not been done yet. “You see the direction California, Colorado, New York are headed, you can assume that is the direction we are going to be headed.”
State officials have stressed the urgency of getting the booster shot due to its waning efficacy after six months, colder weather moving more socializing indoors that increases the chances of spread and family gathering for the holiday season. In the last week, new cases were up 28% from the seven days previous.
“With Thanksgiving bearing down on us, getting as many people boosted before now and the holidays is really important,” said Murphy. “I hope that we make this more simple and straightforward with the holidays coming up.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,038,153 in-state, plus an additional 493,126 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,531,279 as of Nov. 15. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,911,990 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 211,700 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,123,589.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 525,680 for Pfizer and 365,736 for Moderna. A total of 14,791 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 806,207 have received a booster or third shot.
As of Nov. 15, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,059,828 with 1,147 total new PCR cases. There were 174 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 159,940. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,219,768.
As for those that have passed, the state reported four confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 25,358. The state listed probable deaths at 2,819, bringing the overall total to 28,177. State officials noted eight deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Nov. 15, Bergen had a total of 93 new confirmed cases and 19 new probable cases, Essex 71 new cases and eight new probable case, Hudson 57 new cases and one new probable case, Morris 53 new confirmed cases and 12 new probable cases, Passaic 63 new cases and five new probable cases, Sussex 30 new cases and four new probable cases, and Warren 19 new cases and no new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,859, followed by Bergen at 2,698, Hudson with 2,169, Passaic at 1,818, Morris at 1,045, Sussex at 275, and Warren County at 231.
In regards to probable deaths reported Nov. 15, Bergen has 311, Essex has 310, Morris has 266, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 71 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,804,446 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Nov. 1, 47,559 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 1,027 COVID-related hospitalizations and 279 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Oct. 25-31, breakthroughs accounted for 17.2% of all new cases (2,003 of 11,615), 1.1% of new hospilizations (eight of 744), and none of the 113 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Nov. 15, it increased to 1.04 from 1.00 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Nov. 11 was 4.9%; by region, the rate was 3.9% in the North, 5.6% in the Central region and 6.2% in the South.
The state reported 690 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 243 in the North, 215 in the Central and 206 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 134 are in intensive care units and 63 on ventilators. A total of 84 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 Nov. 10, the state has tracked 160 school outbreaks and 860 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 12 outbreaks and 66 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 735 students and 125 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 in the new report, Passaic County has eight confirmed outbreak with 102 cases, Bergen County has 14 confirmed outbreak with 65 cases, Sussex has 15 confirmed outbreak with 58 cases, Morris County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 33 cases, Essex County has six confirmed outbreak with 26 cases and Hudson County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 123 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,204 of the cases, broken down between 657 residents and 547 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,818 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 34,028 residents and 23,255 staff, for a total of 57,283.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,657 on Nov. 15. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,003 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.