NJ to hit COVID vax goal in May. Reopening still paused — Top News 4/5
New Jersey is poised to surpass the vaccination of 70% of adults. What happens next?
About 70% of the adult population should be fully vaccinated by the first week of May. That amounts to 4.7 million residents.
When the state administered the first vaccinations last December, there were questions about whether that number were attainable in time for the summer of 2021. Now, the state is poised to far surpass that goal. As of Sunday, 1,772,456 residents were listed on the state's COVID-19 dashboard as being fully vaccinated; 2,992,107 people have received their first dose and were awaiting their second.
State health officials say better than 90% of those who get their first dose return for their second. They should receive that second dose in the next 30 days, putting New Jersey on pace to fully vaccinate 4.7 million by the first week of May.
New Jersey's vaccination rate far exceeds most other states and the nation as a whole. According to the CDC, the United States has vaccinated just 15% of the total population.
When the vaccinations first began, polls showed that many were skeptical. There were enough people who said they would not get the shot to make state officials concerned New Jersey would not reach herd immunity.
Gov. Phil Murphy said that 70% threshold is what was needed to fully reopen New Jersey. In the months since the first shot was administered to a nurse at a North Jersey hospital, public sentiment toward the vaccine has changed. While there are those who remain skeptical, more people have tried to sign up to get vaccinated then the state has available vaccine.
The federal government has dramatically increased available supply of vaccine, and included not just shipments to the state, but also to pharmacy chains, supermarkets and big box stores to further expand the number of people being vaccinated.
The big question now is what happens next? While Murphy has increased the permitted size of outdoor gatherings and the number of people allowed inside large venues, many restrictions remain. Murphy strongly cautioned against large indoor gatherings for Passover and Easter.
As the state started seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 mutations, he announced lifting more restrictions would be on "pause." At the same time, he has encouraged more kids be allowed to return to classrooms for in-person learning.
He reduced the social distancing requirement from 6 to 3 feet, in accordance with guidelines from the CDC. Yet restrictions on indoor dining and a ban at sitting at a bar remain. The state is currently tracking at least six COVID variants. The mutation first discovered in the U.K. is the most prevalent.
The encouraging news is that continuing research does show current vaccines are effective on these mutations. Doctors are also getting better at identifying and treating them. Hackensack Meridian physicians have developed a new rapid test that can identify variants in a matter of hours. It not only allows doctors to track these mutations and better understand how they are evolving, but it also helps with better treatment.
High vaccination rates, better tracking of variants and better treatment all point to New Jersey being able to safely reopen in time for summer. That decision, however, ultimately lies with Murphy and he has left New Jersey in a holding pattern.
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LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.