NJ pushes COVID vax on kids before school starts
With the start of school just five weeks away, state health officials are launching new efforts to get kids vaccinated against COVID-19.
New Jersey has among the highest vaccination rates in the nation. Nearly 56% of the entire state's population, or 5,240,590, are now considered fully vaccinated. For those 12 and older, who are eligible to be vaccinated, that rate is 76%.
However, the vaccination rate falls to just 44% among those ages 12 to 17. As the state prepares for full-time in-person instruction for all schools, that is concerning to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. During Monday's COVID briefing she said, "We need that to be higher," and urged parents not to wait. Persichilli said making a vaccine appointment now will ensure kids are well protected before the start of school.
Many local officials are also concerned about vaccination rates among young people ahead of the new school year. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop posted on Facebook about his city's "weak spot" being kids between 12 and 17. 78% of Jersey City adults are vaccinated, but only 46% of kids are. Jersey city has begun a series of weekly calls to parents urging them to get their kids vaccinated before school.
With Delta variant cases surging in New Jersey, and the likelihood grows that new anti-COVID restrictions could be imposed, Governor Phil Murphy remains committed to resuming in-class instruction at all schools in the Fall. "We know the results on virtual learning," Murphy said at Monday's COVID briefing, "and there is enormous learning loss." A petition being circulated by the group New Jersey Parents for Virtual Choice is gaining signatures, but has been rejected by the governor.
For now, a COVID vaccination is not required to attend public school, but there has been support for the idea in the past. It is unlikely it would be added to the list of required vaccinations for this school year. None of the COVID vaccinations currently available in the U.S. have been granted full approval by drug regulators, and have only been approved for "emergency use."
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