New Jersey is receiving 76,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, with the first vaccination taking place on Tuesday, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.
The vaccine does not mean that residents should stop taking precautions against the virus including wearing masks and social distancing, the governor said at his Monday news conference.
But Murphy said he is also not anticipating the closure of indoor dining. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has closed indoor dining through Jan. 4. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a two-week ban on indoor dining in New York City for two weeks beginning Dec. 14.
Indoor dining in New Jersey remains at 25% capacity. While removing a mask to eat and drink increases the risk for contracting COVID-19, Murphy said there has been no “substantial spread” attributed to indoor dining.
Currently, 704 New Jersey residents are intensive care units in state hospitals, the first time the state has seen numbers that high since May, according to Murphy. Of those, 491 residents are on ventilators, and a total of 3,635 residents are hospitalized due to the virus. Since the pandemic began in March, 405,448 residents have reportedly contracted the virus and 15,907 have died, with another 1,868 deaths are listed as probable deaths from COVID-19.
Murphy called Tuesday a “big day” for the state as a health care worker at Newark’s University Hospital will be the first New Jersey resident to receive the vaccine.
“As more vaccine shipments arrive, our vaccination program will become much more robust over the coming weeks,” Murphy said. “Our health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff remain our top priority for initial vaccinations.”
Who will get the vaccine next is a “work in progress,” Murphy said.
“This is a start but it’s just the first few drops in a really big bucket,” Murphy said. “We will have to ensure the steady supply that we’ve been preparing for. We will have to work against vaccine misinformation and skepticism.”
For New Jersey to achieve herd immunity 70%, or all adults or about 4.7 million residents will have to be vaccinated.
“The number of new infections and hospitalizations will not magically return to zero because we’re about to provide our first vaccinations,” the governor said.
Murphy expressed his frustration with residents who are not cooperating with the 3,300 contract tracers in the state.
“Seventy-eight percent of people aren’t cooperating with our contact tracers,” Murphy said. “This is not a witch hunt. I implore you to work with our contact tracers.”
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