New Jersey continues to make good progress on the COVID vaccination front, with one glaring exception: the state's nursing homes, where a majority of the pandemic's victims lived.

During the coronavirus update in Trenton on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy said a total of 3,629,909 Jersey residents are now fully vaccinated, and the number of adults getting vaccinated is on the rise in several urban communities where vaccine hesitancy has been an issue. But that’s not the case when it comes to the people working in long-term care facilities.

“The staff vaccination levels continue to be unacceptably low,” he said. “Staffing is continuing to lag. It’s gotten better but it’s not anywhere where it needs to be.”

The latest Health Department data shows 82% of long-term care residents have gotten vaccinated but only 58% of the people taking care of them have also received a COVID vaccine.

Two weeks ago, 56% of staff at long-term care and assisted living facilities had been vaccinated.

When Murphy was asked if the state might consider mandating vaccinations for those working in nursing homes, he said, “we have been working with operators from moment one, since the vaccines came upon us. But would be consider other steps? I think if we had to we will.”

“Whether we get to mandating or not, I’ve expressed many times the personal preference that folks get there of their own free will. But at a certain point our patience runs thin on that," he added.


The governor asked relatives of long-term care residents who put their own pressure on facilities.

“Please ask management what percentage of your staff is vaccinated, and what’s your plan to get that number up," he said. “Residents and the family of residents in long-term care have every right to know what level of staff is vaccinated and to know what the plan is to get that number to an acceptable level.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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