In Brief

Democratic state senators must be vaccinated by Oct. 18

By: - September 24, 2021 6:57 am

The vaccine policy will apply to lawmakers, staffers, and district office employees, and there will be no testing option. (Photo by Dana DiFilippo)

New Jersey’s 25 Democratic state senators must be vaccinated by Oct. 18, according to a memo from the Senate Majority Office.

The vaccine policy will apply to lawmakers, staffers, and district office employees, and there will be no testing option, two Senate officials said.

Lawmakers must attest to their vaccination in writing by Oct. 18, the same deadline Gov. Murphy put in place for school and state employees, the officials added.

There’s no vaccine policy in place for Republicans in either chamber, or Democrats in the Assembly.

“The speaker reserves the right to visit that when the time is appropriate, so we’ll see what that looks like in November,” said Kevin McArdle, spokesman for Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex).

The Legislature is not expected to convene until after November’s election.

Staffers for Assembly Democrats must provide proof of vaccination, or submit a negative PCR test each week, McArdle said. Employees who are unable to provide a negative test are working from home, he said.

Todd Riffle, spokesman for Assembly Republicans, said the same rules of proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test apply to their office of about 16 people. The Senate GOP office has the same policy for its Trenton staff, a spokesman said.

The COVID-19 vaccines have become a partisan issue nationwide. Polling shows roughly 50% of Republicans are or plan to be vaccinated, compared to nearly 90% of Democrats, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

According to a June report on northjersey.com, roughly half of the state’s 120 lawmakers said they had already been inoculated or planned to be. Many of those who were already vaccinated are from both sides of the aisle.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.

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