County vaccine clinics are being allowed to restrict their vaccines to people who reside in that county.

This is a departure from what Gov. Phil Murphy and state Health Commissioner Judith Persicilli had said weeks earlier about clinics anywhere in the state serving anyone who lives, works or goes to school in New Jersey.

"We work very closely with all of the county sites and we have told them they could give priority to individuals that live, work and study in their county," Persichilli said Wednesday.

Priority for in-county residents, however, does not mean that the county sites should turn away other people without first taking their information and placing them on a call-back list in the event that there is an extra vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines have short shelf lives once they are taken out of cold storage.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, called this policy outrageous.

"I thought the Health Department’s goal was to make sure risk was a factor,” he said. “It looks to me like ZIP code is the factor.”

He said it’s absurd to have different counties setting different vaccine eligibility policies.

“Somehow politics, I hate to use the word ‘trumped’ medical necessity, so welcome to New Jersey," he said. "It’s time for this governor to reverse this policy immediately.”

Persichilli said these county sites are using their own staff and funding “and they’re doing a great job, but we’re telling them to do it with a soft hand” when they turn away out-of-county residents.

When she was asked about people who already have made appointments at out-of-county sites, Persichilli said it was her understanding that "most of the people that go through their systems and make an appointment, and they get an appointment, will get a vaccine.”

“Everyone who wants to get vaccinated will be able to receive a vaccine when the supply is available. Right now the supply is very limited," she added.

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

Where to get COVID-19 vaccine in NJ