New Jersey imposes COVID-19 vaccine in some private and public health facilities
Workers in New Jersey’s public and private health facilities and high-risk community living centers should be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing for the virus.
Governor Phil Murphy made the announcement during his coronavirus briefing on Monday. He said the change would likely affect “several thousand” workers, but couldn’t say how many. Workers must get vaccinated by September 7 or agree to undergo a weekly COVID-19 test.
The mandate covers healthcare workers in specific locations, including Newark University Hospital, Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home, Paramus Veterans Home, and state and county correctional facilities. The goal is to boost vaccinations and stop any potential flare-ups.
“The pool of the most vulnerable and most at risk is shrinking every day as we welcome 8,000, 10,000, 12,000 new people on the first dose,” Murphy said.
Also on the list, private long-term and assisted care facilities, where globally 71% of their employees are vaccinated. But some installations are still as low as 33%.
The university hospital had the mandate in place before the governor’s announcement. The deadline for a vaccine injection at this hospital was Monday.
“Well over 96% are vaccinated,” says hospital president Dr Shereef Elnahal. “This means that we have achieved collective immunity for our hospital and our campus.”
Elnahal says he implemented the mandate a month ago, when only 55% had the hang of it. This happens because the delta variant is spreading among the unvaccinated and the numbers reflect the change.
New Jersey has reported 937 new cases of COVID-19 and a transmission rate of 1.43. There are 540 people hospitalized with the virus, including 95 in intensive care.
“Our healthcare workers have been through so much trauma they don’t want another flare-up,” said Debbie White, president of the healthcare professionals and employees union.
White represents 14,000 healthcare workers. She says she fully supports the mandate to stop any ongoing outbreaks. She says she has a message for people working in hospitals and the general public.
“We are appealing to the public – Put on your mask, get away socially, avoid the crowds and remember to wash your hands,” White said.
Because the delta variant can be passed among those vaccinated, the state Department of Health suggests that everyone wear a mask indoors when in public.
The Associated Press News Service contributed to this report.