Weather was the latest factor impacting New Jersey's rate of vaccination, combining with other factors to potentially derail hopes for a return to normal this summer.

Four of the state's vaccination centers were closed on Thursday due to inclement weather. Weather also delayed vaccine shipments from the federal government. As a result of those delays, Monmouth County has canceled all appointments scheduled at their county sites today and Saturday. Residents will be notified of a reschedule date. If you had you appointment canceled at one of the state mega-sites, you have been rescheduled to Sunday at the same time.

New Jersey has set a goal of vaccinating approximately 4.7 million people to achieve herd immunity and trigger a full reopening. At the current pace, the state will fall well short of that goal, perhaps not reaching a 70% vaccination threshold until the fall.

Disinformation — New Jersey Homeland Security officials are warning of bad actors spreading false information about the COVID-19 vaccine online. They say operatives from foreign countries, domestic terrorists and the mentally unstable are responsible for spreading myths and falsehoods. These include claims the vaccine is fatal, could cause sterilization and alter your DNA. New Jersey Homeland Security Czar Jared Maples says these lies are being spread to create panic and distrust.

Vaccine/breast cancer — Some medical experts are recommending not getting a mammogram right after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine can cause inflammation of lymph nodes, especially after the second dose. That can read as a false positive during a mammogram. The Society of Breast Imaging is recommending you delay a mammogram about a month after a second vaccine dose.

Restrictions to remain — The number of positive COVID-19 tests has dropped 46% in a month. Hospitalizations have fallen every day for 15 days. The rate of transmission remains below 1.0. Gov. Phil Murphy, however, says he is not comfortable lifting restrictions now that New Jersey is seeing a spike in the number of infections from the U.K. variant. Fifty cases are confirmed in the Garden State. Murphy has extended the state health emergency declaration for a 12th time.

Vaccine DOES protect against variants — As more data is collected about COVID-19 mutations from the U.K. and South Africa, there is encouraging news about vaccine protections. Initial research from the University of Texas published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows the Pfizer vaccine provides effective protection against both strains. A separate study in the Journal found the Moderna vaccine offered strong protection against the U.K. strain but more data was needed about the South African variant.

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