COVID vaccination now open to those 65 or older

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TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy announced that starting Thursday, those over the age of 65, or between the ages of 16 and 64 with a medical condition that leaves them more at risk to the virus, will be able to get vaccinated.

The announcement was made Wednesday during the governor’s COVID-19 press briefing.

“We have set the infrastructure and we need to do this job, and we are ready to ramp up our vaccination efforts exponentially,” Gov. Murphy said.

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The announcement means that a new group of New Jerseyans, which numbers in the millions, will be able to get their first jab of the virus. Health care workers, personnel in long-term care homes and first responders have already been given the green light to receive the vaccine.

Judith Persicihilli, the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, said that over 80 percent of individuals who passed away due to COVID-19 have been over the age of 65.

Those between the age of 16 and 64 may also get the vaccine if they have a health condition which makes them more at risk. Such conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, down syndrome, heart conditions, obesity, sickle cell disease, type two diabetes and smokers. Those who are pregnant or are immunocompromised could also be eligible for the vaccine, but should check with their doctor first, Commissioner Persichilli said.

So far, there are 1.2 million individuals in New Jersey that have preregistered with the state to receive the vaccine at https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/vaccine.

As of Wednesday, 264,681 individuals have received the vaccine in New Jersey.

The addition of a new group to the state’s vaccination effort comes as the number of individuals contracting the virus is on the increase.

On Wednesday 6,922 new positive tests of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 543,974. The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has been recorded at more than 13 percent as of Saturday, Jan. 9.

The statewide rate of transition, or the average number of persons infected by each infectious person, has ticked up to 1.1.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise, to 3,726 individuals. That number is still half the amount from the state’s peak last spring, which was more than 8,000. Around 650 patients are in intensive care, with 452 on ventilators.

An additional 95 individuals have passed away from COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 18,070. Probably deaths linked to the virus has been estimated upwards to 2,091, meaning the state has passed the threshold of 20,000 deaths associated with the virus.

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