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June 20, 2021

N.J. eclipses initial COVID-19 vaccination goal ahead of schedule

The state has begun shifting its vaccine focus to more community-based locations

Prevention Vaccines
New Jersey COVID-19 vaccine goal Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Above, a file photo of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Savannah, Georgia.

More than 4.7 million people who live, work or study across New Jersey are now fully inoculated against COVID-19, Gov. Phil Murphy said, as the state surpassed its vaccine watermark almost two weeks ahead of its self-imposed June 30 deadline.

"We are grateful to the millions who rolled up their sleeves to protect themselves, their families and their communities from COVID-19, and together, we have exceeded our initial goal," Murphy said Friday. "While we are celebrating this remarkable achievement, our work is not yet finished, and we must continue working together to vaccinate all eligible individuals to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

When New Jersey unveiled its COVID-19 vaccination playbook last October, state officials set their initial goal of having 4.7 million people fully vaccinated in the first six months of vaccine distribution. Once the first COVID-19 vaccines were authorized in the U.S. last December, New Jersey made the end of June its goal post for having at least 70% of the adult population fully vaccinated.

Since December, almost 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, according to the state dashboard. Adults ages 30-65 years old make up 57% of vaccine recipients across the state. Females outpace males, 54%-46%, and 51% of vaccine recipients in New Jersey identify as white.

Pfizer's two-dose regimen, the first to receive an emergency use authorization from the FDA, has been administered in 55% of New Jersey COVID-19 vaccine recipients.

The highest-number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered and fully-vaccinated residents in South Jersey are in Camden County, where over 513,800 shots and more than 251,700 residents are fully vaccinated.

Anyone ages 12 and up is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. New Jersey opened up its vaccination program to the entire adult population in April after focusing on frontline health care workers, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staff and those with underlying medical conditions through the few months of the vaccine distribution process. 

But state officials implemented a number of incentives over the past few months to get more residents vaccinated and help New Jersey reach its COVID-19 vaccination goal line on June 30.

"Operation Jersey Summer," the statewide public awareness campaign aimed at getting all eligible people who live, work and study in New Jersey vaccinated against COVID-19, kicked off in May as the state accelerated its reopening plans and eased most of its pandemic restrictions.

Among the incentives that the initiative originally offered included free beer at 13 breweries across the state for residents who got their first COVID-19 vaccine doses in May, walk-in appointments at New Jersey's six vaccine mega-sites to eligible residents and the "Grateful for the Shot" campaign, which has allowed people to get vaccinated after attending religious services.

The state later unveiled another slew of incentives that included free wine at nine vineyards across the state for residents who got their first COVID-19 vaccine doses in May, free access to New Jersey's 51 state parks and forests for the rest of the year and a chance to have dinner with the governor and first lady.

New Jersey has also begun closing down its six COVID-19 vaccination mega-sites as the state shifts its vaccine efforts to more local, community-based locations. 

The mega-sites located at the Rowan College of South Jersey in Gloucester County and the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic County were scheduled to administer their final round of vaccine doses over the past two days.

The mega-site at the Moorestown Mall in Burlington County will administer its last round of first doses on July 1 before shutting down on July 23. This will be the last of the six sites that will close.

New Jersey opened the mega-sites in January to help bolster the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process. They've recently been used to distribute vaccines to local community centers, too.

There are more than 1,5000 COVID-19 vaccination sites located across New Jersey. Vaccination sites can be found by using the state's appointment finder.


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