Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday New Jersey will, by default, sign up all residents for its vaccine tracking system — giving people the option to opt out, but not until the ongoing novel coronavirus health emergency ends.

Murphy has consistently re-upped the state's public health emergency declaration since novel coronavirus cases began appearing in New Jersey in March, allowing him broad powers to regulate gatherings and business activity through executive orders. Though regulators are expected to approve emergency authorizations for coronavirus vaccines in the coming days or weeks, it's unclear how much longer Murphy might continue to extend those powers.

"30 days after the current public health emergency ends, anyone who was enrolled due to the #COVID19 vaccine can opt back out of the system," Murphy Tweeted Friday as he announced the same at his routine coronavirus media briefing.

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The briefing was continuing when this article was published.

The change does not require anyone to get a coronavirus vaccine, though Murphy has said he's hoping to see 70 percent of the state's eligible population eventually voluntarily vaccinated. That's despite polling that suggests about half of residents say they won't take a vaccine, at least not right away.

Priority for vaccine distributions will be given in the coming weeks to healthcare and other front-line workers, and the state continues to work on a roll-out plan administration officials say will be focused on equity and need.

Murphy described the automatic enrollment in the NJ Immunization Information System as a way to ensure "efficiency for those who choose to take a vaccine," not a way to mandate receiving one.

The NJIIS, according to state materials, "collects and consolidates vaccination data
for New Jersey’s children, adolescents, and adults" It's managed by the state health department's Vaccine Preventable Disease Program. It was created in 1997, and all residents born after 1998 are in it by default; those born earlier normally have to opt-in voluntarily.

The system consolidates immunization information from multiple healthcare providers into one state-managed record accessible to medical providers, licensed childcare facilities, schools, health departments and insurance plans.

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