New Jersey health officials aim for 70% COVID-19 vaccination rate once available

TRENTON, New Jersey -- New Jersey health officials said Monday they aim to have 70% of the state vaccinated for COVID-19 once a vaccine becomes available.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said such an effort would require about 81,000 per day over five days to be vaccinated. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, called on the federal government to fund a vaccination program. A vaccine could become available later this year or early next year, according to health officials.

A big hurdle, Persichilli said, will be building public confidence in the vaccine.

"We have to build trust," she said.

Murphy announced Monday an additional roughly 1,200 cases overnight, putting the state's total at nearly 230,000. Seven additional deaths were reported overnight, leaving the toll at 14,503.

The climbing rates come as the public struggles with "pandemic fatigue," Persichilli said, and as people host indoor gatherings and relax social distancing and mask-wearing practices.

Viruta Health Executive Vice-President and Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Reg Blaber says while cases are rising, they aren't at the levels we saw in the spring.

"The vaccines that we do get are probably going to be directed at those on the front lines," Blaber said.

He said we also know more about treatments and care, but that doesn't mean it's time to let guards down.

"If the trends continue what we can expect is that January, February, and March we could be where we were last April," Blaber said.
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