NEW JERSEY — The number of new coronavirus outbreaks in schools across New Jersey has remained steady this week as the number of children ages 5 to 11 getting vaccinated has increased fivefold, state officials said.
However, only 24 percent of New Jersey residents eligible for a booster injection have done so, officials said during Monday afternoon’s COVID-19 press conference.
An additional 12 new COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported in Garden State school districts in the past week. The total since the start of the school year has grown to 160. In the past two weeks, there were 11 each.
The 54 new student cases bring the total number of student cases to 735 since the start of the school year. That number is on the decline, Governor Phil Murphy said. There were 12 new cases among staff, bringing the total to 125.
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New Jersey also saw an increase of five cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, bringing the total number of cases to 141 since the pandemic began in March 2020. While it’s the biggest increase in cases in a while, the rates are still lower than they were around this time last year, state physician Edward Lifshitz said.
“This isn’t something you get from anyone,” Lifshitz said. “You get COVID, and then it’s a matter of how your body responds to that infection. It’s a rare infection and unpredictable which child will get it, but you wouldn’t expect it to run in families, or areas or cities. “
Childhood Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) is a condition in which various parts of the body can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Anyone who sees symptoms should seek help right away.
The number of children ages 5 to 11 who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine reached 47,390 on Monday, compared to 9,116 students in that age group who were vaccinated on Nov. 8. Read more here: 9K NJ Kids Received First Dose of COVID Vaccine So Far
“That’s more than five times what it was a week ago today,” Murphy said. “For parents, I would say vaccinating your child is the surest way to get them back to their normal routines. With every child being vaccinated and entering a classroom with an educator who has been vaccinated and sitting among their peers who have been vaccinated , the closer we can get to removing the masking requirement in our schools.”
Last week, Murphy said that requirement expires Jan. 11 and it may not need to be extended depending on how quickly students are vaccinated, but he didn’t repeat that point Monday. Read more here: Murphy: K-12 Mask Mandate May Not Renew
At the same time, only 24 percent of New Jersey residents eligible for a booster shot have taken the opportunity, said New Jersey health commissioner Judith Persichilli. Confusion about who qualifies for the boosters may be at the root of the booster’s hesitation, officials summed up who qualifies:
Anyone 65 years and older who received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine six months ago, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine two months ago; and anyone 18 years of age and older who has pre-existing health conditions or works in an environment that increases their risk, and who received their second doses within the same time frame as previously listed.
And if anyone is in doubt about their eligibility, and they’ve been vaccinated in those time frames, they should go ahead and get a booster, Murphy said.
“Since Moment One, we’ve been adhering to CDC guidelines, but there’s not much stopping us from saying, go ahead and get it,” Murphy said.
“Boosters are not a bonus,” said Persichilli. “They are absolutely essential to fight the pandemic.”
NEW JERSEY #COVID19 NUMBERS: ➡️1,147 new positive PCR tests ➡️1,059,828 total positive PCR tests ➡️174 new positive antigen tests ➡️159,940 total positive antigen tests The positivity rate is 4.88%. The statewide transmission rate is currently 1.04. pic.twitter.com/5ZsYjX7BWw
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) November 15, 2021 ➡️690 patients in our hospitals (626 confirmed COVID positive, 64 people under study) ➡️134 patients in our ICUs ➡️63 ventilators in use ➡️84 live patients discharged ➡️93 COVID positive patients admitted ➡️10 deaths in hospital pic.twitter.com/cZP1Avre3w
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) November 15, 2021 Unfortunately, we have to report 4 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths, bringing the cumulative total of confirmed deaths to 25,358. The number of probable deaths has been revised to 2,819. pic.twitter.com/XyqnGSs250
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) November 15, 2021