In Brief

Murphy: Decision on school vaccine mandate to come before end of August

By: - August 10, 2021 7:02 am

One lawmaker compared the mandate to “child abuse.”

Gov. Phil Murphy expects to issue guidance on immunization requirements in schools before the end of August, he said at a press briefing Monday.

“My guess is in the next two or three weeks, we’ll have something that we’ll be able to put out there,” Murphy said, adding his administration is working on the issue.

New Jersey has, in recent weeks, re-imposed some virus restrictions as case counts rise statewide. Last week, the governor announced children, faculty, staff, and visitors would be required to wear masks in schools, though he has insisted remote classes would not return absent a dire rise in virus cases.

Last week, he said workers in health care, corrections, and long-term care will be required to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly virus testing. Murphy on Monday said any new mandates would likely resemble that order.

The 1,190 confirmed or probable cases reported Monday represent a significant increase from the lull earlier in the summer, though they still fall far below the number of new virus cases during the state’s winter surge.

The timing for school guidance leaves little time for educators and support staff to comply with a vaccine mandate. Two-dose vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna come with a recommended waiting period of 21 and 28 days, respectively, between shots.

Those vaccines and a single-dose vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson each reach maximum effectiveness about 14 days after the final dose is administered, making it likely some who comply with the mandate will not have reached peak immunity by the time school starts in September.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten this week backed a vaccine mandate for educators, citing concerns over the Delta variant’s increased threat to children. No vaccine has been approved for children under the age of 12.

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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.