As NJ COVID metrics improve, officials push for more booster shots
While new positive COVID cases and hospitalization continue to drop dramatically in the Garden State, the New Jersey Health Department is stepping up efforts to encourage vaccinated residents to get booster shots.
To date, 50.58% of eligible residents, a total of 2.8 million New Jerseyans have received a booster shot.
During the latest coronavirus update in Trenton on Monday, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said boosters, which offer significantly more protection against serious COVID illness than the 2 regular vaccine shots alone, are being promoted through multiple initiatives.
Lots of options
She said the COVID community corps continues its effort “alongside our FEMA canvassing partners to provide education, answer questions, promote area pop-up clinics and help to schedule appointments for those who want to get boosted.”
Persichilli also noted, “the state’s grateful for the shot initiative continues its partnership with faith-based groups to host vaccination events in places of worship.”
She said events have recently taken place in multiple locations including the Parish of Our Lady of Angels in Trenton, and the Lakewood Country Club.
Make it easy
“We are bringing the vaccine to where people are, during weekends, evening hours, to make it as convenient as possible for people to get boosted,” she said.
Persichilli pointed out “we have had successful pop-up clinics in places like the Cherry Hill mall, schools, entertainment venues and senior high rise buildings.”
She noted Department of Health vaccine ambassadors are working with community partners in municipalities around the state where the booster rates are below the state average.
It's worth the effort
Gov. Phil Murphy said all of these efforts are important.
“We know we’re saving lives by pounding away, even if we’re grinding away at getting more people boosted,” he said.
He added progress is being made but more needs to be done.
“We’re not happy with booster rates at 50%, but I think the national average is 27%, right,” he said.
Persichilli said the COVID call center (1-855-568-0545) “continues to assist callers, including the homebound, in scheduling booster appointments and sending text message reminders to those who need booster shots.”
She noted last month there were 173,000 outbound calls to support booster education and events.
In addition, she said mega sites in Bergen, Burlington, Gloucester, Passaic and Somerset Counties are also administering booster shots.
The COVID update ended abruptly when a fire alarm went off while a reporter was asking questions.
At first the governor, Health Commissioner, state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan and State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan sat in place looking stunned as the fire alarm buzzed loudly, but a few minutes later Murphy told everyone to evacuate the building.
It was later determined the alarm was set off by leaking water in a closet.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.