TRENTON, NJ — Acknowledging the "growing reality" that one or more coronavirus vaccines are months away, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey has submitted a draft of a coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Submitted to the CDC on October 16, the plan's first draft “is by no means finalized. I use the word draft deliberately … we continue to list the new unknowns we have to consider, many of which only the federal government and the vaccine clinical trials can answer,” Murphy said during an October 26 virtual press briefing.
“Our strategic gains are threefold … to provide equitable access to a vaccine, to achieve maximum community protection and (to build) public trust in not just a COVID-19 vaccine, but the vaccines that can protect residents from other potentially debilitating and deadly illnesses,” he said.
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the emergence of a vaccine would likely trigger an “emergency use authorization” via the federal government, thus making a limited number of vaccine doses available in the first allotment.
“The federal government will likely provide guidance on the prioritization of the limited quantities, but it will be up to the states to determine the exact allocation of the allotment,” she added. “How much New Jersey will receive will depend on multiple factors, such as the population of essential and health care workers, current spread or prevalence of the disease and the vaccine availability. But we do not know right now is the efficacy and the adverse event profile for any potential vaccine as the trials are still going on.
"Our inspirational goal for a wide-scale vaccination program in New Jersey is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population in a six-month period,' she said.
To meet that goal, the state would have to vaccinate 81,000 residents a day five days a week, or roughly 3,200 people a day five days every week in every one of the state’s 21 counties, according to Persichilli.
"The CDC guidelines stipulate that in Phase 1, the allotted doses will be reserved for persons serving in health care settings, who have the potential for direct exposure, or for essential workers, or for individuals at risk, including those 65 and older," Persichilli said.
Phase 2, she continued, would meet further immediate vaccine demands and finally Phase 3 would be reserved for open access to vaccinations. The governor said more information on the vaccine distributions will be made available as the process gets finalized.
Murphy said key in NJ’s success of distributing a vaccine is local health departments, federally qualified health centers, hospitals, as well as medical-clinical and retail pharmacies.
He said as early as the spring the groundwork was being laid over a "workable vaccination plan" that would account for distribution, allocation, vaccination and monitoring. However, the state had to quickly shift to more immediate response efforts.
“We know from public polling that there is already growing skepticism of a vaccine. And in the face of this virus that skepticism could prove to be as deadly as the virus itself," Murphy said. "We are committed to building trust in the vaccines and all of our communities, and we will not wait until we receive the vaccines to start that process.”
Meanwhile, the Garden State reported there were 1,223 new COVID-19 cases (229,684 total) and seven new deaths (14,503 total confirmed and 1,789 still awaiting further confirmation). Persichilli confirmed that four of those seven deaths took place in the past week, and all seven deaths took place in October.
Additionally, 19 patients died in New Jersey hospitals on October 25 from what is believed to be COVID-19, but require further lab tests to confirm.
There are 948 hospitalized patients — 767 confirmed COVID-19 positive and 181 persons under investigation pending the return of test results. Of those, 178 patients in intensive care, including 75 on ventilators.
The statewide rate of transmission is currently 1.23 and the positivity rate for all tests recorded on October 22 was 4.48 percent.
Of the new caseload, Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties all confirmed at least 110 cases — with Hudson County confirming 75 cases of its own.
In Monmouth County, there were 62 new positive cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths reported on October 26. To date, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in Monmouth County since March is 13,747. There are 96 hospitalized patients, including 19 in intensive care and 10 on ventilators.
- Click here for Monmouth County’s latest coronavirus information.
- Click here for Monmouth University’s COVID-19 Campus Dashboard.
- Click here for the New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard.
Below is Gov. Murphy's October 26 press briefing.
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