Only 20% of eligible New Jersey residents have received a booster vaccination

As expected, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for people who have received the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna or Johnson & Johnson to receive a booster dose. Federal health officials have also announced that it’s okay to mix and match, and that people get a different type of shot than they originally received.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult a panel of experts before finalizing official recommendations on who should receive boosters and when.

The biggest question now in New Jersey is how many extra people will show up to get a booster.

The Pfizer booster was approved by federal health officials in September, but so far there has been little interest.

During a virtual press conference held Wednesday on responding to a coronavirus pandemic, Governor Phil Murphy said that so far only 20% of the 1.2 million who are eligible for a booster vaccination have so far.

Murphy said while there could be some confusion about who needs a booster vaccination and how long immunity lasts for which age group, “boosters would not have been approved if the folks in federal science and medicine had not concluded they were offer useful additional protection “.

As immunity has been shown to be waning in some people, the governor stressed that more people need to roll up their sleeves.

“We are less well off because less eligible people are promoted than we are when they are promoted. That must be the case. “

Boosters are currently available for people aged 65 and over, residents of long-term care facilities, people aged 18 to 64 with pre-existing conditions, and people who are at increased risk of COVID exposure and transmission due to their professional or institutional setting.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, director of the Communicable Diseases Division of the New Jersey Department of Health, said while the vaccines were very effective, immunity tended to decline somewhat over time.

According to Lifshitz, the CDC has looked very closely at this issue, especially for the elderly.

“The fact that immunity diminishes over time and because they are prone to more serious illnesses than younger people when they fall ill makes it useful for them to strengthen themselves.”

The governor said there are likely a number of reasons why demand for boosters has lagged.

“I think there have been some mixed messages from the Feds. Disagreements in healthy discussions between different branches of health organizations – probably a false sense of security from some. “

With the announcement of the booster, the FDA approved a third Moderna booster vaccine for anyone aged 65 and over, those with medical problems and those who work or live in high-risk situations who received their second vaccine at least six months ago.

The same approval was given last month for those who received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.

The FDA also said anyone who received the J&J vaccine at least two months ago should get a booster shot.

J&J vaccination has been shown to be less effective than Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at preventing COVID infection, although all three vaccines were effective at preventing serious diseases.

As for mixing and matching, the FDA said it’s okay to use any brand for the booster, regardless of which vaccination people got first. The interchangeability of recordings is expected to speed up the refresh campaign, especially in nursing homes and other institutional settings where residents have received different recordings over time.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at david.matth[email protected]

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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