Fewer dosages of coronavirus vaccine are headed to New Jersey than originally expected, but the state is outlining the next steps for distribution to health care and essential workers, long term care facilities — and, eventually, the public.

Gov. Phil Murphy during his coronavirus briefing on Friday that six vaccine "mega sites" will open in January, serving widening groups of people and expanding beyond the current distribution by hospitals to their own staffs — the governor said more than 2,000 health care workers have received their first of two doses of Pfizer's vaccine. The FDA is expected to approve another vaccine by Moderna shortly.

The first group — designated 1A — includes healthcare workers, as well as long-term facility residents and staff. Next up in 1B are essential workers. After that, in 1C, adults over the age of 65 and those with high-risk medical conditions. And then, eventually, the vaccine will be available to the general public.

The "mega-sites" will be located at the Meadowland complex in East Rutherford, the Rockaway Townsquare Mall in Rockaway, the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, the Moorestown Mall in Moorestown, Rowan College in Glassboro and the Atlantic City Convention Center. 2,400 doses are expected to be administered daily.

Another 200 satellite vaccination sites will also open around the state at hospitals, federally qualified health centers, urgent care centers, chain pharmacies and other localized sites.

CVS and Walgreens will facilitate the on-site vaccination of long term care facility residents starting on December 28. The shots will first be administered at veterans homes and skilled nursing facilities and then onto other long term facilities.

"As each successive group of New Jerseyans becomes eligible to become vaccinated ... we will have the infrastructure in place to administer to every resident in those groups who wishes to be vaccinated," Murphy said.

State officials expect to be focusing on the 1A group into February, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. There are 650,000 healthcare workers in New Jersey alone, she said.

The state hopes to eventually vaccinate 70 percent of the eligible adult population, with an aim of establishing a level of herd immunity that would stem the spread of the coronavirus. That would amount to 4.7 million residents.

Murphy said he has no plans to make the vaccine mandator, including for health care workers, though attorneys say private employers could require it of their own staffs. So far, none in New Jersey have announced plans to do so.

As of Friday 2,149 health care workers have received their first dose, according to Persichilli.

New Jersey is now expecting only 53,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the next week, down from 53,000, Persichilli said — as several stated report they're now slated to receive fewer doses than originally expected from the federal government. Murphy said he's spoken to officials at Pfizer and neither they nor state officials have received a clear answer from federal authorities for the reduction.

The originally anticipated distribution of Moderna doses in December has dropped from 490,000 to 392,800.

Murphy said he expected an explanation from the White House during a scheduled meeting on Monday.

Despite this week's noreaster ,hospitals all over the state have received doses for their staffs this week, including Shore Medical Center in Somers Point and Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May County, and the Inspira medical centers, according to a report by the Press of Atlantic City. Patch of Woodbridge reported the staff at JFK Medical Center in Edison and Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

The initial first shot was given to nurse Maritza Beniquez at University Hospital in Newark on Tuesday.

(Includes material copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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