Healthcare and other state workers in New Jersey under vaccine mandates do not need to have a second COVID-19 booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order April 13 clarifying that vaccination requirements for covered workers at health care and high-risk congregate settings. New Jersey will now considered healthcare workers “up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations” if they have received a primary series, which consists of either a two-dose series of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or a single dose COVID-19 vaccine and the first booster dose for which they are eligible, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The deceleration comes after the deadline for healthcare workers to get a COVID booster shot passed on April 11 after the prior deadline in late February with tens of thousands still without the shot was extended. The New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) had asked Murphy for a 90-day extension last week.
While COVID-19 booster rates among healthcare workers have increased, thousands of hospital and nursing home employees have still not received the shot. NJHA reported many hospitals had between 95% and 100% of staff with boosters, with RWJBarnabas at 96%, St. Joseph’s Health at 89% and Hackensack Meridian at 88%. The percentage at long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, was 79%.
The booster deadline for prison workers, group home employees and others who work in high risk congregate care settings is May 11. The union representing prison guards had fought the mandate all the way to the state Supreme Court and lost.
Murphy, who tested positive March 31, signed the executive order the same week he and his wife, First Lady Tammy Murphy, both received a second COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. Murphy is 64 and considered high risk because he had a cancerous tumor removed from his kidney on March 4, 2020, the same day the state reported its first known case of COVID-19.
“Even though it is not required, I encourage New Jerseyans who the CDC has advised would benefit from their second booster to roll up their sleeves and give themselves an added dose of defense against COVID-19, like I did,” said Murphy.
“The numbers here in New Jersey and from around the nation are clear—getting boosted is directly linked to less-severe COVID-19 symptoms and illness and far lower rates of hospitalization and death.”
While hospitalization continues to remain low, other key health metrics continue to rise in the Garden State. New Jersey reported 2,289 confirmed new COVID-19 cases—the first time above 2,000 since Feb. 17—and seven coronavirus-related deaths as the transmission rate continues to climb well above the key benchmark that indicates the outbreak is expanding.
New Jersey’s transmission rate increased remain at 1.30 for a second consecutive day; anything above a 1.00 means each new case is leading to at least one other new case and the outbreak is expanding. The statewide daily positivity rate for tests conducted April 9, the most recent day available, was 9.1%. There were 367 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across 70 of the state’s 71 hospitals.
“Our steadfast vaccination efforts have effectively lowered the risk we face in New Jersey, and as we navigate the path to normalcy, we must continue to do all we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities,” stated Murphy.