New Jersey expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey is expanding the eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday.

The changes take effect Thursday, January 14 and now adds more than 4 million residents who will be eligible to make appointments to get vaccinated.

-Anyone 65 years of age or older

-Anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 with medical conditions as defined by the CDC that increases the risk of severe illness from the virus

Murphy said those who have preregistered at the state's vaccine website, - and is now eligible - should soon receive an email notification.

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In Florida over the weekend, some of the most vulnerable citizens waited for hours to get the shot.

"It is somewhat, if not largely, based on the anticipation - not guarantee - but anticipation of increased delivery of vaccines as the federal government will no longer be holding back doses," Murphy added.

Murphy also announced that New Jersey has now delivered more than 250,000 vaccinations statewide.

"We expect this number to grow quickly over the coming weeks as we ramp up our vaccination program," Murphy said.

However, there was another milestone to announce on Wednesday: the death toll from COVID-19 in New Jersey has surpassed 20,000 people.

"For anyone left who still denies this is real, I don't think there's anything else we can say to try to convince you of reality," Murphy said.

That means vaccination sites like a freshly operational one at Camden County College in Blackwood will assist in getting more shots into arms.

The site opened its door Wednesday for the first time to help vaccinate those protecting and serving the community, like Camden County Sheriff officer Virginia Maties.

"I don't want to get anybody sick and I don't want to get myself sick, so I think this is very important for law enforcement and anybody that's around the general population," Maties said.

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Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman said she believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol during the riot last week.

With the site now up and running thanks to a partnership with Jefferson Health New Jersey and Cooper University Health Care, about 150 people will be able to get the Moderna vaccine daily.

County officials expect that number to increase exponentially in the coming weeks if, in fact, more doses are made available.

"We are prepared, beginning today, to administer up to 500 vaccines a day at a minimum. If we receive enough vaccines we could vaccinate up to 1,000 people per day," said Camden County Board of Commissioners Director Louis Cappelli Jr.

Murphy's administration is aiming to have nearly 5 million people, or about 70% of the adult population, vaccinated in six months.

The death toll climbed by 95 overnight, rising to 18,070. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Jersey rose over the past two weeks from 4,476 new cases per day on Dec. 29 to 6,190 new cases per day on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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