The administration of Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that all adults ages 65 and over, plus younger people with certain underlying conditions, will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine beginning Thursday, Jan. 14.
The new policy is a marked change from the state’s original plan, which called for three separate sub-phases of the first round of vaccines, consisting of first responders and those ages 75 and above receiving their shots before the general senior population of those 65 and older. The new policy effectively combines what were phases “1b” and “1c” into a single phase.
Beginning Thursday, all New Jersey residents ages 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus, are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination. Those conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
“Over the last several months, our administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s Covid-19 vaccination demand,” said Murphy, at a daily press briefing on the pandemic. “Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”
Pre-registration for vaccines is available on the state’s coronavirus website, located at https://covid19.nj.gov/vaccine. Word of expanded access to the vaccine became available just minutes ago, and local officials have yet to announce their plans, though the Ocean County Board of Commissioners is due to meet Wednesday afternoon. The Ocean County Health Department is normally represented at those meetings.
The OCHD website was still accepting registration only for those people in groups “1a” as of 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.
“Expanding access to vaccine to individuals in these categories is critical as we know they are at greater risk for severe Covid-19 illness and death,” said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Eighty percent of COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey have been among those 65 and older and overall 67 percent of deaths had one or more underlying conditions reported.”
The administration advised that individuals who are pregnant and those in an immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant are also eligible, but should follow CDC guidance and first discuss vaccination with their medical provider before receiving the vaccine. In addition to paid and unpaid healthcare workers in phase 1a, these two groups mark the expansion of eligible residents in phase 1b, which recently opened to include sworn law enforcement and fire professionals.