Initial allotments for New Jersey of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine will help inoculate a greater number of people than health officials had thought earlier in the week.

But no matter how many doses come our way, coronavirus safety measures such as frequent hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing aren't going anywhere any time soon.

"This is going to be our way of life for at least another year as we plan for a large-scale vaccination program that we hope will kick off at the end of December and go through June or July," said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

The Rider University alumnus made her comments Tuesday during a virtual event hosted by the institution, through which students and staff could ask Persichilli about New Jersey's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

On the Zoom event, Persichilli noted an update from the federal government suggests New Jersey will receive 120,000 to 130,000 doses of COVID-19 "in our first traunch," whenever that may come, "followed quickly by another 130,000."

As additional vaccines are approved in 2021, Persichilli said, supply of vaccination will "definitely meet the demand" in New Jersey.

Pfizer, which recently said its vaccine may be 90% effective in protecting adults from the virus, is among four potential vaccines under clinical trial in the United States.

During a "60 Minutes" segment that aired Sunday night, Persichilli said she believes the first batch would be enough to cover 50,000 people in the state. Updated numbers offered Tuesday suggest that up to 130,000 people could be inoculated early on.

The Garden State has a goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population within six months of a vaccine's release. A requirement that comes with emergency use authorization of vaccine is that people most at risk be vaccinated first.

"We have a big fight ahead of us," Persichilli said Tuesday. "We're hopeful that the vaccines will provide the immunity that we need to protect our communities, but we won't know that for a while, we won't know that for a year."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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