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COVID vaccine senior citizens
COURTESY STATE OF NEW JERSEY Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli speaks on the COVID-19 vaccine being made available to senior citizens and people with underlying conditions.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Montclairians and New Jersey residents aged 65 and older, and residents aged 16 through 64 with underlying conditions, can receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Thursday. 

“Over the last several months, our administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”

The underlying conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Downs syndrome, heart conditions, obesity, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, and people who smoke. 

People who are pregnant have received organ transplants are also invited to get the vaccine, but are strongly urged to consult with their health care provider. 

Montclair officials have not yet not responded to messages Wednesday seeking information about how facilitation of inoculating seniors would begin, or if it would be left up to county officials. But residents can register on the state’s vaccination portal.

As of Jan. 13, a total of 264,681 vaccine doses had been administered, including 236,503 first doses and 28,045 second doses. The total is expected to go up “exponentially” over the next week, Murphy said. 

About 2.1 million people have pre-registered for the vaccine via the state’s online registration portal, including about 200,000 people who pre-registered on Jan. 12. Murphy said that, given that there had been some concerns about anti-vaccine rhetoric, the numbers of people pre-registering were encouraging.  

Murphy reiterated that the demand for the vaccine currently far outstrips the available supply, and he acknowledged that the addition of the new vaccine groups will add to that demand. 

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state is bracing for a surge that could begin as soon as next week, and continue into February. A moderate scenario could see as many as 4,500 hospital beds filled, while a high scenario could see as many as 6,000 hospital beds filled. 

Wednesday, hospitals reported 3,726 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.,

There is enough PPE available to hospitals, but she cautioned that hospitals will not have enough staffing.

If it gets to a point where hospitals are strained, Murphy said, special measures may have to be taken to help alleviate the staffing stresses, but he did not elaborate what those measures would involve. During the spring surge, hospitals took steps such as canceling elective surgery. 

Wednesday’s numbers

Montclair health officials reported 10 new cases on Jan. 13, compared to 12 on Jan. 12, bringing the total to 1,470. The number of deaths remains at 62.

Essex County reported 621 new cases and seven new deaths on Jan. 13, compared to 335 cases and seven new deaths the day before. The total now stands at 52,521 cases and 2,202 deaths.

Officials reported 6,922 new cases statewide – a single-day record since the pandemic began, Murphy said – up from 4,219 on Jan. 12, bringing the total to 543,974. 

Another 95 new deaths were reported, down from 108 on Jan. 12, bringing the total 18,070 confirmed deaths. The number of probable deaths currently sits at 2,091. 

The rate of transmission now stands at 1.10, up from 1.08 on Jan. 12, and the positivity rate now stands at 13.53 percent, up from 11.32 percent on Jan. 11. 

Hospitals reported 3,726 patients, including 648 critical care patients and 452 patients on ventilators, on the evening of Jan. 12. The evening before, Jan. 11, hospitals reported 3,703 patients, 659 critical care patients, and 440 ventilators in use.