Police, firefighters eligible for vaccine in New Jersey, Murphy says

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Police officers and firefighters in New Jersey are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Thursday

They follow health care workers as the second wave of professionals eligible to get the shot. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement Wednesday.

"We are able to open up vaccination to them based on the available supply," Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. New Jersey has about 400,000 shots on hand, she has said, and more than 134,000 vaccines have been administered so far, up from 101,000 the previous day, she said.

Persichilli has added that health care workers and those in long-term care homes continue to be a priority, and expanding vaccination eligibility to another group doesn't mean that earlier categories are now closed to getting the shots.

"It's exciting, it's exciting to me here," said Gabe Rodriguez, Camden County's new police chief. "It really is comforting to know that we're gonna be able to provide this so they're safer. The people we serve are safer and their families when they go back home are safe as well."

There are about 650,000 people in the so-called 1a category, including health care workers, and 2.5 million essential workers, according to Persichilli. She said the state is hoping to get enough vaccines to be through vaccinating those groups by April or May.

She has also said the state is aiming to vaccinate 70% of the adult population, or 4.7 million, within six months.

More than 450,000 people have signed up so far on the state's new vaccine pre-registration site, Murphy said Wednesday.

They will get word when they're eligible to get the shots. The state launched the website on Tuesday and faced technical problems stemming from high demand. Murphy said the state is working with the vendor to fix issues so the site works without interruption. .

New Jersey, like other parts of the country, is seeing heightened positivity rates and passed more than 500,000 cases on Wednesday.

There were 104 deaths from the virus reported overnight, putting the total at 17,464.
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