Will New Jersey be ready to start giving COVID booster shots?
About a month ago it was announced U.S. health officials were moving ahead with a plan to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots during the week of September 20.
But a final decision on authorizing the booster shot program has not been made yet by the Food and Drug Administration and a panel of advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers and health officials are still discussing who should get the booster, and when it should be administered.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said even though we don’t know what will happen on the booster shot front, the state Health Department is working with county and local officials to be ready to offer the shots as soon as the program gets the go-ahead.
Officials have said booster shots would be made available to everyone who received their second Pfizer or Moderna shot eight months earlier, but there has been some recent discussion about how the COVID vaccines could begin to lose their effectiveness after six months, especially with individuals over the age of 65.
Murphy said if the FDA approves a plan to offer boosters to everyone who received their second COVID shot six months ago, it will mean initially 2.4 million Garden State residents will be eligible to receive a booster, and that will mean more sites will be needed to give people the shot.
“I promise you this: we’ll be ready,” said the governor. “We will over-build as opposed to under-build but even when we do that, my guess is out of the chute, no matter what the eligibility is, there will initially be a supply-demand imbalance.”
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli expects to have at least one mega site open as soon as Sept. 20 and all counties will have a booster site.
Health officials have noted even after immunity begins to wane in some individuals the vaccines remain highly efficacious when it comes to preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death.