Are Garden State residents who resist getting vaccinated acting irresponsibly and endangering those who have rolled up their sleeves and gotten a COVID vaccine?

As the Delta variant continues to spread, Gov. Phil Murphy continues to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. But he says won’t point a finger of blame at those who resist getting a vaccine even though he's called this a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."

Some New Jerseyans are sharply criticizing the minority of people who remain unvaccinated because they are essentially allowing the COVID variants to circulate, multiply and morph into new variants that could pose significant new threats. Murphy says he isn’t among those critics.

He said he does not believe it’s productive to knock state residents who won’t get a COVID vaccine.

“I just hope it doesn’t come to an us versus them,” said the governor. “We’ve had enough of that in this country of late. This needs to be about all of us finding common ground, getting there together.”

He said in New Jersey “the density of unvaccinated people is real but the density of vaccinated people is also real."

At the same time, however, Murphy noted “the simple reality is that we do not have a pandemic among the vaccinated. This is only right now a pandemic among the unvaccinated.”

He said while the number of new COVID cases is much lower than in previous months “we can say with near certainty that these new cases are people who, for whatever reason, have not been vaccinated.”

After continuing to improve for weeks, the COVID metrics in New Jersey have leveled off. The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for more than half of all coronavirus cases in the country.

During the most recent coronavirus update in Trenton on Wednesday it was announced there are 240 new COVID infections in the Garden State with 237 hospitalizations, 73 hospital cases remain under investigation and the rate of transmission is hovering just under 1, at 0.95.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli confirmed the number of Delta variant cases is rising, doubling in the course of two weeks.

The predominant variant in New Jersey remains the Alpha variant, first referred to as the U.K variant.

Persichilli pointed out in other states where vaccination rates are not as high as New Jersey’s (currently we rank 8th highest in the nation for the percentage of fully vaccinated state residents), hospitalizations and infections are rising because of the Delta variant circulating among the unvaccinated.

State epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan said she is not concerned about a new report based on Israeli Health Ministry data that shows the Pfizer vaccine is 64% effective in preventing infection from the Delta variant. Previous analysis has shown the vaccines provide a much more robust level of protection.

“The protection that you get from vaccine against disease, even if it’s slightly diminished is still way better than not getting vaccine at all, at the end of the day getting the vaccine does give you protection," she said.


You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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