schooling in a pandemic

NJ Adding Teachers, Food Workers, Clergy to Those Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccines

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is adding teachers, child care workers, food workers, postal employees, and others to the state's coronavirus vaccine eligibility list

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What to Know

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says teachers, support staff and public transportation workers will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine on March 15.
  • Murphy, a Democrat, said Monday that members of tribal communities, the homeless, migrant farm workers and child care workers will also become eligible for the vaccine.
  • Then on March 29, food distribution and service workers, postal workers, clergy, hospitality workers and other frontline workers become eligible.

Teachers, food workers, postal employees, clergy and several hundreds of thousands more people in New Jersey are being given access to doses of the coronavirus vaccine later this month.

On Monday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that Pre-K to 12th grade educators and support staff are among the next phase of workers who will become eligible for the vaccines on March 15.

Other groups also moving up in line to get access to the vaccine on March 15 include child care workers, NJ Transit workers, Motor Vehicle Commission workers, migrant farm workers, people experiencing homelessness, members of tribal communities, probation officers, and others in public safety, the first-term Democrat added at his afternoon news briefing.

Murphy said that several hundred thousand New Jerseyans are included in this new group that can get the vaccine starting March 15.

Then, on March 29, "frontline essential workers" will be added to those eligible. The additional workers who can get the vaccine before the end of the month include clergy, food and restaurant workers, grocery store workers, elections personnel, social service workers, hospitality workers, warehouse workers, those in the medical supply chain and more.

Murphy said that the March 29th group could be even larger than the March 15th group. He noted that the total numbers aren't clear because some in these new groups already qualified for the vaccine under previous eligibility standards.

Click here for details on the state's COVID-19 vaccine program.

Murphy urged patience for people once they become eligible as the supply still doesn't mean to demand. He says that imbalance will continue to ebb and flow as more people become eligible.

As of Monday, New Jersey has surpassed 2 million people getting at least one shot. It took 55 days for the state to reach 1 million shots and just 20 days to climb to 2 million, the governor said.

More than 691,000 people having already gotten both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Health-care workers, first responders, older people, people with certain pre-existing conditions and smokers are among the millions currently qualified for vaccines in the Garden State.

The addition of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine is adding to the state's availability of vaccines, Murphy said.

"We’re anticipating roughly 70,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be delivered to us this week," Murphy said. "We’re going to do all we can to make sure our distribution and administration of these initial doses is strategic and well-planned."

There are still others who aren't included in the groups qualified for vaccines. The addition of teachers to the state's vaccine program should extend to those working in colleges and universities, according to the group representing teachers in the state.

"The sooner educators are vaccinated, the sooner our entire state is safer," New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) President Marie Blistan said in a news release following Murphy's announcement. "We call on the administration to immediately extend that access to employees in higher education who are equally as exposed and equally as critical to fully reopening our state for in-person instruction."

"At every level, New Jersey educators have worked tirelessly to educate our students and have advocated tirelessly to protect them and our communities throughout this pandemic by demanding high standards for health and safety," Blistan continued while saying the NJEA will work with Murphy on vaccinating educators.

Schools in New Jersey from the start of the school year have had the option of in-person, hybrid or entirely virtual education models. Vaccines could help in planning for in-person learning.

New Jersey has been loosening some coronavirus-related restrictions in recent weeks -- including sporting events -- as daily case counts and hospitalizations have been lower than earlier this year. To date, however, nearly 702,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed with PCR tests. Nearly 21,000 deaths are confirmed to be due to coronavirus-related complications.

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