All health care workers in New Jersey must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and receive booster shots or face termination, Gov. Phil Murphy said he plans to sign on Wednesday.
The regulation also applies to all employees in community facilities such as nursing homes or prisons.
Regular testing for unvaccinated workers is no longer an option under the regulation. Exceptions can be made for people with medical conditions or “entrenched” religious beliefs, Murphy said.
“We will no longer overlook those who are putting their colleagues, and perhaps more importantly those in their charge, at risk from COVID,” Murphy said Wednesday. “That has to stop.”
Murphy made the announcement in South Jersey just before touring a new COVID testing site in Galloway Township.
The announcement comes as COVID hospitalizations fell for the seventh straight day to 5,204 as of Tuesday night. The number of intensive care admissions and the number of ventilation patients fell slightly to 844 and 519, respectively.
Last week, the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow President Joseph Biden’s immunization mandate for healthcare workers in facilities that receive federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid. This measure affects around 10 million workers. The decision came at the same time the court ruled that the Biden administration had no authority to impose a vaccination mandate on large private employers.
Murphy’s previous vaccination mandate for healthcare workers allowed for a semi-annual testing option. But several of New Jersey’s largest hospital chains, including Hackensack Meridian and RWJ Barnabas, have already required their employees to be fully vaccinated with no testing option. They fired dozens who refused.
Under Murphy’s new order, healthcare workers have until January 27 to receive their first dose of vaccine and February 28 for their second dose. Those working in high-risk residential facilities have until February 28 to get their first dose and March 30 for their second.
Those who are fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster shot have these dates to get them. Those who are not yet eligible for a booster shot have three weeks before they are eligible to get the shot.
Approximately 48% of all New Jerseyers who are eligible for a booster shot have received one.
“Science tells us that just getting your primary streak is no longer good enough as reinforcement is necessary to protect yourself and those around you,” Murphy said.
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Scott Fallon has covered the COVID-19 pandemic since it broke out in March 2020. For unlimited access to the latest news on the impact of the pandemic on New Jersey, subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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