(Photo by Fran Baltzer for the New Jersey Monitor)
All workers in New Jersey’s state and private health care facilities and “high-risk congregate settings” must get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 7, or undergo testing once to twice a week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.
Murphy attributed the change to the spread of the Delta variant and its widespread impacts.
“Almost every day, we are receiving some new research that shows this variant to be even more contagious and more lethal than previously thought,” Murphy said during his regular virus briefing in Trenton. “We also know that the surest way to end this pandemic is vaccination.”
The new mandate applies to state prisons, county jails, and juvenile justice facilities; long-term care and assisted-living facilities; acute-care, specialty and psychiatric hospitals; short-term and inpatient rehabs; licensed behavioral health facilities; home health agencies; and developmental centers.
Murphy said there is “nothing stopping” private employers from implementing a similar policy.
The governor reported more than 5.3 million New Jerseyans have been fully vaccinated as of Monday, with another 674,203 who have gotten at least their first dose.
Unions have argued that requiring workers to be vaccinated is something that should be bargained. But Murphy said his order offers an opt-out (tests once or twice a week to prove a worker is coronavirus-free) for those who refuse to get a vaccine.
“Could this contribute to worker shortages? It might. It might,” Murphy said, of the possibility that a vaccine mandate might drive people to quit their jobs. “Worker shortages versus keeping people alive — it’s a tough reality … but I think it’s fair to say we have no choice.”
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