As New Jersey hospitalizations plateau, officials prepare for COVID-19 booster shots

State officials said they are awaiting federal guidance later this month as to when people will be eligible for booster vaccines.
Camden County health officials said Monday that COVID-19 infections among children and teens are going up, and urged those who are eligible to get vaccinated.

A pop-up vaccine clinic was held at Freedom Prep Elementary School in Camden for eligible students, faculty and staff.

New Jersey officials say it's too early to say if any schools are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

Camden County officials said Monday during a virtual town hall, based on contact tracing, the most common sources of spread continue to be family and social gatherings.

"We are seeing a significant increase in those school ages children 5 to 18," said Camden County Senior Infectious Disease Investigator Rianna DeLuca.

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On Sunday, former FDA commissioner and current Pfizer board member, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said its vaccine could be available with an emergency use authorization in children 5 to 11 as early as Halloween.

The CDC's current director said she hopes that the group will be able to be vaccinated by the end of the year.

While some parents Action News spoke with are still nervous about vaccinating their younger children, we found people excited about the possibility.

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"Kids, they need to be together. Why not do it in a way where it's going to be safe for them? They need to get vaccinated quickly," said Kimmie Smith of Mount Laurel who has a young granddaughter.

State officials said they are awaiting federal guidance later this month as to when people will be eligible for booster vaccines, saying at least some of New Jersey's megasites will open up again as more people are eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

While hospitalizations seem to have plateaued in New Jersey, officials say ventilator use is up.

"We keep an eye on it. It is a 20% increase over the past two weeks, but it's certainly nowhere near the other surges," said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli during Monday's COVID-19 briefing.

In Burlington County, a free COVID-19 testing center is now available five days a week in response to the more contagious delta variant. No appointment is needed.
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