TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey is expanding COVID vaccinations to include people over the age of 65 and those with chronic medical conditions. That will start Thursday.
Delaware is aiming to do the same soon, while Pennsylvania is still reviewing options.
Operation Warp Speed announced yesterday new guidance to vaccinate more people with the release of more supplies.
On Wednesday, New Jersey said it was moving forward to dramatically expand its vaccinations.
“We are now ready to begin to ramp up our vaccination efforts exponentially,” Murphy said.
READ MORE: CBS Philly’s Vaccine Guide — When Can I Get The COVID-19 Vaccine In Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware?
New Jersey’s vaccine expansion will cover an additional 4.5 million people to include anyone over the age of 65 and those 16 and beyond who have medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, obesity and smokers.
“We know that individuals in these categories are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.
New Jersey has already established mass vaccination sites, along with a registration portal for appointments that are required to get vaccinated.
“Our goal is to get shots in arms, period, to do it the right way, the most equitable way. We want to do this in an orderly fashion so no lines around the block and camping out like you saw in Florida,” Murphy said.
But there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the vaccines. Camden County still hasn’t received its vaccines from the state, and that all trickles down from the federal government’s rollout plan.
“We are told that by Monday we will have 6,000 vaccines and we hope to receive that amount each and every week,” Camden County Commissioner Director Lou Cappelli Jr. said.
As New Jersey gets ready to transition into phase 1B of its vaccine rollout, even more people are eligible to get vaccinated, and the process in Camden County is relatively quick, according to a county commissioner.
“At this point, if you register online, you should be able to receive a vaccination sometime next week, Cappelli said.
“It is somewhat, if not largely, based on the anticipation — not guarantee, but anticipation — of increased deliveries of vaccines as the federal government will no longer be holding back doses. We are confident in taking these steps,” Murphy said.
But it’s more of the same concerns in South Jersey. There’s uncertainty around the number of doses that will be available to residents.
“There’s no guarantees. Our first package of 6,000 vaccines we were promised two weeks ago, we haven’t received them yet. So everything we do is contingent upon us getting some number of vaccines on a weekly basis to keep this program going,” Cappelli said.
Local officials are reminding folks even if you are vaccinated don’t let your guard down.
If you’re pregnant or have a compromised immune system, you are also eligible for the vaccine but it’s recommended you should check with your doctor first.
Meanwhile, Delaware is also planning to include the 65-plus group and people with medical conditions when it moves into the next phase in a couple of weeks.
But, there is still no plan from Pennsylvania.
“We are all rolling out the vaccine as quickly as we can. It will take time to continue to do that,” Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday.
Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said it hoped to have more information soon on whether it would expand vaccinations.
“I have real concerns about that,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.
The Philadelphia Health Department is reviewing the new federal guidance, calling it “a wholesale change out of the blue after months of planning.”
But Dr. Farley feels offering the vaccine to everyone over 65 creates an unfair situation.
“If you do that then the people who tend to be vaccinated are the people that have the most resources, people that can work the system or have lots of time on their hands. That’s not the way you save the most lives,” Dr. Farley said.
While the federal government said it would release more vaccines, it’s unclear exactly how much that is or where it’s going. So there are still a lot of unknowns, the biggest of all being will there be enough vaccine for the necessary second doses. The assumption is yes because manufacturing is increasing.
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.
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