November 23, 2020
Several coronavirus vaccine candidates could become available to the public by the end of the year, and New Jersey officials said they are ready to move forward and distribute a vaccine once it is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The state is hoping to receive as many as 360,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
The first tranche of 130,000 doses would likely arrive by the third week of December, followed by another shipment of 130,000 doses the following week. A final delivery of roughly 100,000 doses could arrive before the calendar flips to January 2021.
This timeline depends upon how soon the FDA grants an emergency use authorization to the manufacturers who have developed a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer submitted an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine to the FDA on Friday, while Moderna expects to apply for emergency use authorization later this year. Clinical trials of both drugmakers’ vaccines have shown to be more than 90% effective in stopping the coronavirus.
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has also been found in clinical trials to be up to 90% effective. The drugmaker has also said that it is preparing to submit data to regulators for an emergency use authorization of its vaccine.
When New Jersey obtains doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, populations at highest risk of contracting the virus will receive it first. That group includes health care workers, long-term care employees, and dentists.
The next cohort to receive the vaccine will be highly-vulnerable populations, mainly seniors and those with underlying health conditions.
The state will then distribute the vaccine to other groups, with the hope of vaccinating 70% of New Jersey’s eligible adult population within six months. That equates to about 81,000 people per day, five days a week.
The plan will be carried out by local health departments, health centers, hospitals and pharmacies.
U.S. officials have suggested a coronavirus vaccine could become available in limited capacity as early as later this year or early 2021, with widespread distribution to the general public not expected until later next spring.
But with no vaccine available yet and many people traveling to attend family gatherings for Thanksgiving, Murphy urged residents to “be safe and smart.”
“If you are going to get together with a big group this Thanksgiving, please do so outside where social distancing can be better ensured and you can better protect your loved ones from this deadly virus,” Murphy said.
"We know that this Thanksgiving is not what we’re used to – nor what any of us want to do,” he continued. “We know that there are those who are so yearning for normalcy that they’re willing to risk their family’s health for a big Thanksgiving. We urge you to think beyond this holiday.”
Murphy’s warnings come as New Jersey recorded 3,592 additional coronavirus cases on Monday, increasing the statewide total to 309,588 since the pandemic began. The state has confirmed 14,960 deaths due to COVID-19 since March.