Vaccine mandates and COVID metrics. What’s next in NJ?
Another vaccination milestone in New Jersey, where more than 6.1 million people who live, work and study in our state are considered fully vaccinated.
While state health officials are pleased with the overall vaccination rates in New Jersey, they have expressed concern that demand for the vaccine booster shots has remained relatively low. Many parents are also hesitating to get their kids vaccinated, now that pediatric doses are available for children as young as 5.
Clinical trials are underway on the safety of COVID vaccines on infants as young as six months, and federal health officials could grant approval for use before the end of the year.
In an effort to get more people to get the booster shots, the CDC has said they may redefine the term "fully vaccinated" to include only those who have had the extra vaccine dose.
New Jersey has ordered over 200,000 pediatric doses of vaccine, and have begun scheduling appointments. Unlike when the vaccine was first rolled out nearly a year ago, appointments are readily available.
Meanwhile, the state's overall COVID metrics are trending in the right direction. Despite warnings from Governor Phil Murphy and his health advisors, New Jersey is not seeing a big spike in new infections or hospitalizations.
New Jersey's rate of transmission (r/t) has fallen back below 1.0, indicating a contraction of the outbreak. Hospitalizations have been below 700 for a week.
Cumberland County is the latest to drop off the CDC's top tier for risk of community spread of the virus. The number of new infections in Cumberland has dropped nearly 44% in a week.
There are, however, pockets of New Jersey where infection rates are still increasing. In Monmouth County, new infections are up 22% in the last week, despite more than 70% of the population being vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Whether or not new vaccine mandates take effect in the weeks ahead remains unclear. Legal challenges against the Biden Administration continue, but the president is continuing to pressure private businesses to impose their own mandates.
That has created a good deal of uncertainty and anxiety among both business owners and employees.
Join me tonight at 7 p.m. for a special Town Hall broadcast on vaccine mandates. Business leaders and employment law specialists will answer you questions about vaccine mandates and detail both your legal obligations and options. We'll have advice for securing a medical or religious exemption as well guidelines for maintaining a safe working environment.