MOUNT LAUREL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- On the one year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine shot administered in New Jersey, the state is urging people to get their boosters.
Called "Boost NJ Day," the state asked vaccine clinics to expand hours and walk-in access on Wednesday to encourage more people to come out and get their booster shots.
Since December 15, 2020, more than 14.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered across the state, including more than 590,000 in Burlington County.
To date, 73% of New Jersey residents are fully vaccinated, but only 36% of those eligible have received a booster.
Public health officials are trying to push up those numbers, especially in light of the omicron variant and decreasing immunity.
"With cases increasing, it is critical that more residents get boosters because we know immunity is waning," said Judy Persichilli, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health.
The state reported this week 1,698 hospitalizations - that's the highest since April 27.
"We cannot overlook that there are more cases being identified among those who did complete their primary vaccine course, a course that now may begin to be waning. This is why everyone who is vaccinated earlier this year now needs to step up for their booster," said Gov.Phil Murphy.
Dr Anthony Fauci says even with two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, the protection against infection is down.
Fauci added that the protection against hospitalization and severe disease is also lower but greatly improves with a booster.
"Omicron is going to be a challenge because it spreads very rapidly and the vaccines that we use, the regular two dose mRNA, don't do very well against infection itself. But with hospitalizations, particularly if you get the boost, is pretty good," said Fauci.
The state posted a list of clinics with walk-in availability to help make booster doses as available and accessible as possible.