Ahead of schedule, NJ hits 4.7 million COVID vaccine goal

New Jersey on Friday hit Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's goal of vaccinating 4.7 million people.

State Department of Health figures show the state has inoculated 4.75 million adults, hitting a goal Murphy set for his administration nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. 

"It requires you to average tens of thousands of shots in arms every day," said Murphy during the announcement.

Murphy had said the figure amounted to 70% of the adult population, but his office said the percentage has dropped because the state's population grew during the most recent census.

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"We are not close to stopping. This is no way, shape, or form the end of history," added Murphy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the state with 66% of its population vaccinated as of early Friday.

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Vermont and Massachusetts have surpassed the 70% level. Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island were nearing it heading into the weekend, according to the CDC.

President Joe Biden has set a nationwide goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one shot before July 4.

New Jersey has exceeded that goal, with 77% of adults having at least one jab.

"Everyone has stood up to be vaccinated and everyone who has stood up to be vaccinated is part of the heroes of this pandemic," said, NJ Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

Murphy has said the push will continue. He's introduced a number of incentives, including partnerships with breweries and vineyards offering a drink to those who present their vaccination card, along with annual season passes for state parks.

While New Jersey has surpassed the governor's goal, the percentage of the state's roughly 9 million people who are vaccinated stands at about 54%.

The swell in vaccinated residents has led New Jersey to relax nearly all of the measures Murphy put in place beginning in March 2020. Just two weeks ago, he ended the public health emergency except for about a dozen executive orders. The number of new cases, hospitalizations and the rate of spread have been dropping for months.

New Jersey was an early hotspot last year, with 23,667 people succumbing to the disease. Now, Murphy says the outbreak is almost entirely among those who have not been vaccinated.