First look at state proposal raises questions, such as how providers will maintain its unflagging pace over six months to protect 70% of residents
New Jersey will rely on a network of public and private health care providers to immunize millions of residents over the next year or so, according to a draft COVID-19 vaccine plan state officials released early this week.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday work on the proposal began in earnest in July and continues today as members of the state’s Vaccine Task Force seek to refine the plan, which was submitted for federal approval in mid-October. Whenever a vaccine is approved for emergency use — possibly by the end of 2020 — and distributed to the states, Murphy promised, “We will be ready.”
The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of the eligible population — all adults who are not pregnant — within six months of the vaccine being widely available, something that might not happen until late March 2021. The plan does not say how large this group could be, but according to calculations made by NJ Spotlight News based on population figures and birth data, it would be roughly 4.76 million people. The state Department of Health has $6 million in new funding to establish an office to oversee the task. Since March, nearly 233,000 New Jerseyans have tested positive for the disease, including at least 16,300 likely killed by the coronavirus.