NJ urges COVID vaccine booster shots

New Jersey is kicking off a new campaign to get more people their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots because new stats show many with their first two doses aren't going back for a third.

Also, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday that he will soon end his regular pandemic briefings because of the overall progress against illnesses.

"With the omicron tsunami continuing to swiftly recede, the case numbers continuing to fall and hospital metrics continuing to improve, with vaccination numbers among the highest in the nation and still climbing, and with the last major statewide masking requirement — the one in our schools — set to be lifted in 11 days, we believe now is the time to end these briefings," Murphy said.

Although the universal school mask mandate will be lifted on March 7, Murphy and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli are advising school districts to continue requiring masks during active outbreaks and for those returning to school for the second half of their 10-day quarantine. 

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In the meantime, about 250 vaccination sites across the state are hosting hundreds of events in the next week as part of the effort known as Boost NJ2 Week, which runs from Wednesday, Feb. 23, through Tuesday, March 1.

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center offered food and prizes to folks who walked in for their booster shots on Wednesday.

The governor said he will hold his final regular COVID briefing on Friday, March 4, the second anniversary of the first COVID case in the state.

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Governor's Office Announcement on School Mask Mandate [Excerpt]

School districts and childcare facilities can continue to implement universal masking policies after the mandate is lifted in March. Schools that do not impose universal masking should revise their COVID policies to utilize masking among other prevention strategies under certain circumstances. Schools will not be permitted to bar the use of facial coverings by individuals and will be expected to take disciplinary action in instances of bullying should they arise due to an individual’s choice to continue wearing a mask. Prior to the mandate being lifted, the Department of Health will release guidance to help school districts update their policies to align with the risks and unique needs of their setting and student population to ensure safe learning environments. Source: Announcement, Feb. 7, 2022