SOUTH JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey is adding people over the age of 65 to the list of those currently eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, starting Thursday.
This comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its recommendations to include those over 65, rather than those over 75, to receive vaccinations.
People between the ages of 16 to 64 who have chronic medical conditions can also join the Phase 1a vaccine group.
“You should assume that we’re going to be all over that and we will open this up,” said Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday. “And again, we were going to do that in any event, but I’m happy and gratified to hear the CDC come to the same conclusion.”
Murphy said people should sign up on the state’s vaccination website.
“We need folks to preregister. We can’t see what’s happened in Florida happening in New Jersey, where you’ve got seniors staying up all night and camping out in lines,” he promised. “That’s not going to happen. This is going to continue to be an appointment-based system.”
Speaking on CNBC, Murphy said those over 65 could be vaccinated within the next six to eight weeks, depending on the supply of vaccines.
Chronic conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, and smoking.
“Smoking puts you at significant risk for an adverse result from COVID-19,” said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. “There are 2 million smokers in New Jersey that fit into this category.
“Expanding vaccine access … will help us protect the most vulnerable amongst us,” she continued. “We know that individuals in these categories are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death.”
About 1.2 million people have preregistered for the vaccine in New Jersey so far. The state has administered 265,000 vaccine doses of the vaccine so far.
With the feds no longer holding back doses, Murphy expects vaccinations to ramp up “exponentially.”
Wednesday also saw a new single-day record in New Jersey, with 6,922 more COVID-19 cases.
Across the country, 27.6 million vaccines have been distributed, according to the CDC, but only about 34% of shots have been given.