Gov. Phil Murphy is comparing those who choose to not get vaccinated to people who get behind the wheel while drunk.

During the latest COVID update in Trenton on Monday, when Murphy was asked whether it was selfish for individuals to not get vaccinated against the virus and then wind up in the hospital, he said: “I do think it’s akin to drunk driving. You’re not only putting yourself at risk, you’re putting other people at risk.”

Not getting vaccinated is selfish, he says

“I think it is selfish," Murphy said. "There are obviously some people who have a legitimate reason that they’re not vaccinated or boosted so I am going to put that group aside. I think it’s a shirking of our collective responsibility.”

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, challenged the governor’s comments because the omicron strain also infects vaccinated people.

"It’s telling that he’s now resorting to increasingly extreme rhetoric to try to justify his unpopular and unscientific vaccine mandates," he said. "Republicans are constantly accused of not following the science, yet it’s the governor who repeatedly refuses to accept data that doesn’t support his executive orders.”

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who started her career as an intensive care nurse, said getting vaccinated and boosted is essential because nurses and other health care professionals have faced a nightmare of death and sickness during the COVID pandemic.

Get vaccinated for nurses, health commisisoner says

“Out of respect for them we should do everything we could possibly do to stem COVID-19 and the admissions to hospitals,” she said.

Judith Persichilli
Judith Persichilli (POOL: Michael Mancuso,

“My busiest night, worst night in intensive care on a Saturday night in the middle of an inner city, does not even compare to what our nurses have gone through," she said. "What they have gone through is unimaginable. Not just them, all of our frontline workers.”

She said three new CDC studies provide strong evidence that COVID vaccination, including a third booster, is highly effective in preventing significant illness from both delta and omicron variant infections.

The benefit of boosters

She said one study that looked at emergency room visits in 10 states “found that booster shots were 90% effective in preventing hospitalization during omicron prevalent periods and 94% effective during delta predominant circulation.”

Persichilli said another study found “unvaccinated Americans 50 years and older were about 45 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who were vaccinated and had received a third shot.”

She noted a separate study found a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna provides significant antibody protection against symptomatic COVID-19 disease.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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