NJ COVID Update: Vaccine supply will ‘explode’ around Easter, Gov. Phil Murphy says

NEW JERSEY — New Jersey’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines, far below demand, will “explode” around Easter, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday, offering a promise of possible relief nearly a year since the state’s first case.

Murphy spoke Wednesday during a news conference on the virus, one day shy of the one-year anniversary since the state reported its first positive case.

“None of us could even imagine what it was we would ultimately be up against,” he said.

New Jersey, along with New York, was an early epicenter for the virus, which so far has resulted in 21,052 deaths, and still New Jersey has among the highest number of deaths per 100,000 residents in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the grim toll, the governor sounded an optimistic tone about the addition of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which joins Pfizer and Moderna.

“I believe the supplies … not just J&J, but Pfizer and Moderna – I’m going to use use a word – explode. We’ll be in a dramatically, quantumly different place,” he said.

Easter is April 4.

So far about 2.2 million people have had at least one shot of the two-shot vaccines currently being administered, with roughly 740,000 people fully vaccinated. That’s just over 8% of the state’s population and slightly better than the national 7.9% of people who have been vaccinated, according to the CDC.

The first J&J vaccine, which requires only one shot, is expected to be administered on Friday, the governor said.

Although Murphy said he thinks vaccination deliveries will pick up by early April, he said that after receiving about 70,000 J&J vaccines this week, no further shipments would come for at least the next two weeks. He didn’t specify why.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state would meet a goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population, or 4.7 million people, by July, a promise the Murphy administration made when the vaccines first rolled out in December.

Persichilli has said the state has been getting about 100,000 Moderna and Pfizer vaccines a week, with the numbers increasing over recent weeks. Still, the commissioner earlier estimated New Jersey would need about 470,000 shots a week to meet demand.

The one-year anniversary comes as the governor has begun reopening parts of the state’s economy. He announced Wednesday that summer sleepaway camps, which were closed last year, are authorized for 2021.

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