When the COVID vaccine rollout began in New Jersey two months ago, Gov. Phil Murphy and state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli announced an ambitious goal of having 70% of eligible adults vaccinated within six months.

That translates to roughly 4.7 million Garden State residents getting the two-shot vaccine by the middle of June in order to reach herd immunity, which would contain the spread of the virus and help to get the state back on the road to some degree of normalcy.

But demand for the vaccine continues to far outpace supply.

“Every single New Jerseyan who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated but at the moment with only two approved vaccines currently on an emergency use basis at our disposal, we all need to continue to be patient," Murphy said Wednesday.

It had been anticipated the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine would receive emergency use authorization next week, and vaccine delivery to New Jersey might start as early as the second week in March, but there are now indications that rollout will be delayed for several weeks or months.

The governor also noted the emergence of virus variants could also interfere with the state’s plan to restore some degree of normalcy by early summer.

“We know the vaccines still work against severe illness and death, but they work less well than they do against the main virus,” said Murphy, describing the science on the variants right now as “incomplete.”

Persichilli said another problem in meeting the vaccine goal has been a series of winter snow and ice storms that have forced dispensing sites to close. She noted that all vaccination sites in New Jersey have developed contingency plans for re-scheduling appointments that are canceled because of stormy weather.

Murphy said the Trump administration did not deliver the amount of vaccine supplies that had been promised, which put the state behind from the start. But he said the Biden administration is making progress.

When asked if the 6 month goal of having 4.7 million New Jerseyans vaccinated is still realistic in light of all of these factors Murphy said “we still think we’ll get there."

He suggested when the weather starts to turn warmer in April, he expects to have a clearer idea on reaching the vaccination goal and moving forward on additional steps to re-open the state.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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