Applying pressure: Are vaccine mandates working in NJ?

New Jersey has among the highest vaccination rates in the nation, with better than 75% off all eligible people who live, work or study here being fully vaccinated.

To some degree, that could be attributed to strict vaccine mandates imposed by varying levels of government.

Governor Phil Murphy announced vaccine mandates for state workers, healthcare employees and teachers. Many healthcare groups had already announced their own mandates.

As the deadline for teachers and healthcare workers to prove vaccination status arrives, it would appear the pressure is working.

Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey's largest hospital network, reports a 28% increase in the vaccinate rate of their 36,000 person workforce. HMH says 99% of all employees have now received at least one dose of vaccine. That would leave about 360 employees who have not been vaccinated, and could be subject to termination.

HMH did not say who the unvaccinated were, or what jobs they held within the company.

There has also been an increase in the vaccination rate among teachers and school staff. Under the state's order, all school employees must prove vaccination status, or be subject to COVID testing up to two times per week.

With 686 school districts in New Jersey, the exact numbers of vaccinated -vs- unvaccinated are not clear. However, varying media reports would put the vaccination rate as high as 96% in some districts, and as low as 88% in others.

A growing number of municipalities are imposing their own mandates, beyond what has been ordered by the Murphy administration. Newark has the toughest mandate, with no exemption for regular testing. The mayor's office has not said how many city employees have refused the vaccination.

Data from private industry is less clear, however, big companies like United Airlines, Amazon and big box retailer have reported a large number of employees have opted for vaccination.  United has begun firing workers for non-compliance.

NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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