As the state prepares to begin vaccinating kids as young as five against COVID-19, Governor Phil Murphy says he has "zero expectation" he will need to mandate vaccination to attend school.

As election day nears, Murphy has shied away from talking about new mandates, and has refuted reports that new mandates are coming if he wins re-election. The conservative activist group Project Veritas released secretly recorded video of Murphy campaign aides saying new vaccine mandates were coming after election day.

However, Murphy has repeatedly said all options are on the table as New Jersey battles the pandemic, including vaccine passports mandates to attend in-person classes, and other measures.

At Wednesday's COVID briefing, state health officials said they ordered 205,000 doses of the pediatric COVID vaccine, and anticipated beginning inoculations as early as next week. The FDA has yet to grant approval.

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says the state will be "aggressive" in encouraging kids to get vaccinated. There are 760,000 kids between the ages of 5 and 11 that will be eligible.

Despite his "zero expectation" comment, Murphy did leave the door open to a new mandate for school kids. "At the moment," Murphy said, "We just don't need to."

When pressed on the issue, Murphy refused to rule out a new mandate if the number of new cases starts to rise again.

The governor has continued to get pushback on vaccine mandates.  A group of state workers and public school teachers is suing to get rid of his mandate that all state employees and independent contractors get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.

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Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

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