Gov. Phil Murphy removed one of the last remaining COVID-19 mandates.
Murphy signed an executive order June 12 to lift the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for healthcare settings in New Jersey, following recent changes to federal requirements regarding the vaccine used to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.
A previous executive order required employees in healthcare settings who were not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations to undergo routine testing while lifting the COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for workers in congregate settings. The new order lifts the remaining requirement that healthcare settings maintain a policy requiring their workers to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Today’s order aligns our state with recent updates to federal requirements and reflects our different circumstances now, as compared to the past few years. My administration will continue to take responsible steps to adjust New Jersey’s COVID-19 policies and guidance accordingly,” said Murphy in a press statement.
Healthcare settings include long-term care facilities; psychiatric and specialty hospitals; long-term residential substance abuse disorder treatment facilities; clinic-based setting such as Federally Qualified Health Centers and family planning sites; and community-based healthcare settings such as pediatric and adult medical day care programs.
The changes come after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced last week that it will no longer enforce its rule requiring most employees of Medicare and Medicaid-certified health care providers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for that provider to be eligible to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The order Murphy signed brings New Jersey in line with these changes.
The new policy was prompted by recent changes to the Emergency Use Authorizations of the COVID-19 vaccines that were issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which clarified that individuals can now receive one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer bivalent mRNA vaccine regardless of their prior vaccination status.
The federal government formally ended its crisis response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. and infected many millions more on May 11. That declaration ended the vaccine requirements for federal employees, federal contractors and international air travelers as well as halting a requirement that private insurers cover COVID-19 tests.
As with the previous state executive orders, individual employers may continue to require vaccination or testing protocols in excess of these statewide requirements and the New Jersey Department of Health may continue to track vaccination data in respect to healthcare settings.
In the announcement, Murphy continued to push New Jerseyans to make the COVID-19 vaccine a part of their yearly shots.
“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and I continue to encourage all residents to stay up to date on their vaccinations,” said Murphy. “Vaccination remains a key public health tool to help protect our health care workers and the patients in their care.”
Awaiting for Post Mortem
Murphy lifted the Statewide Public Health Emergency on March 7, 2022, the same day as the controversial school mask mandate ended and has gradually loosened the COVID-19 mandates over the last 15 months. The general state of emergency declared March 9, 2020 is still in place, used to ensure that the state continues to be eligible for federal funds.
A review of the state’s responses to the pandemic is expected to be released in late 2023, expected to contain recommendations for enhancements and reforms to better prepare the state for the next public health crisis.