Murphy blames Walgreens for vaccine failures delaying return to normal
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine far outpaces supply in New Jersey, and there is little indication that will change soon.
By 8 a.m., hundreds of people stood outside in the cold, curled around the Paterson building where COVID inoculations were to be administered. The clinic would not open for another 90 minutes. City officials started telling people to go home. Some had driven an hour to try their chances. Paterson had requested 2,000 doses of the vaccine. They got 700. Many of those huddled in the cold told NorthJersey.com they were desperate.
The scene in Paterson underscores supply and distribution problems that have plagued New Jersey's vaccination effort since Gov. Phil Murphy announced the launch and was on hand as the first shots were given out.
His bold goal of inoculating 70% of the state's adult population seems light years away given the snail's pace of the vaccination effort. At the current pace, New Jersey will have vaccinated less than 10% of the needed 70% by Memorial Day.
Murphy was boasting this week of the state's ability to give close to half a million vaccination doses per week, if only they had the supply. He has followed that up with a round of blame-storming that largely laid culpability at the feet of the former Trump administration.
As Joe Biden became president this week, Murphy shifted blame to Walgreens. Murphy insinuated to CNBC’s Shepherd Smith that the pharmaceutical chain was hoarding vaccine doses and ill equipped to handle mass vaccinations.
"They're punching under their weight," Murphy said. "That's where (Walgreens) most of the yet to be used doses are."
Murphy did also blame the federal government for failing to ship enough vaccine.
Walgreens and CVS have responded by by saying that they have been working to complete their rounds at the state's nursing homes before administering shots to the general public..
Frustration among those who want the vaccine but can't get it is mounting as a result of how Murphy rolled out eligibility guidelines. When inoculations began, it was restricted to front-line workers and nursing home residents and staff. Most understood the rationale. Then, Murphy opened up eligibility to millions more in New Jersey, even while knowing he did not have the vaccine to accommodate them. Hundreds of thousands crashed state and local websites to register and schedule an appointment. The available slots were gone in hours, and many appointments are for months from now.
At a news briefing this week, Murphy said he did not regret increasing eligibility. He is opening a new mass-vaccination center at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Friday. AtlanticCare, which will run the clinic, has already warned they do not have enough vaccine to accommodate any walk-ins. Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli promised a new call center to help residents find available vaccine appointments. None of that matters if the doses are not available.
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Where to get COVID-19 vaccine in NJ