In Brief

Decline in new vaccinations blamed on Ida, Labor Day

By: - September 16, 2021 6:58 am

Murphy administration officials update the press on coronavirus news during a virtual briefing on Sept. 15, 2021.

New Jersey saw a sharp decline in new vaccinations in early September, one likely fueled by a devastating storm, a national holiday, and the beginning of the new school year.

About 25% fewer residents received their first doses of two-shot vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna or the lone dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine between Aug. 30 and Sept. 12 than did so in the preceding two weeks.

The 108,194 new vaccinations seen over the more recent two-week period represent a decline of roughly 41% from the 159,312 new immunizations recorded between Aug. 2 and Aug. 15.

“I do think it’s a combination of storm, back to school, holiday weekend, but we’re grinding away,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at Wednesday’s virus briefing. “We’re still knocking on doors, and we’re still doing everything we can to get it.”

The numbers may improve somewhat in the coming days as additional vaccines administered by individual practitioners, like physicians, are reported to the state, but those increases will likely be small.

New Jersey regularly updates vaccination numbers, including some that are more than a month old. In most cases, the data shifts are minor, accounting for a handful of cases on a given day, but shifts in recent data can be more drastic, though it’s rare those additions are larger than a few hundred.

“When you think of over 1,500 outlets in New Jersey to provide vaccinations, managing all of the inputs from that, sometimes there’s some lag,” Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

The drop in vaccinations was at its most severe last week, when just 6,632 residents began their vaccine regiment. Much of that decrease was driven by a dearth of vaccinations on Labor Day, when just 1,796 first or lone doses were administered.

That’s the least of any day this summer except the Fourth of July, which saw only 465 residents begin full vaccination.

The state required workers in health care facilities and some congregate living settings be fully vaccinated by Sept. 7. Murphy later issued a vaccine mandate for state and school employees, who are required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. Each of those policies allows residents to forgo vaccination in favor of weekly testing.

The state says 5.7 million people who live or work in New Jersey are fully vaccinated.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.