What to Know
- NJ's incoming shipments of the vaccine from Pfizer and newly approved Moderna have been cut by 20 percent, official said Friday
- The estimated 20 percent shortfall leaves the state 100,000 doses short of their expected vaccine count for December
- Long-term care residents and staff will become eligible to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine starting Dec. 28
Vaccine shipments bound for New Jersey from Pfizer and Moderna -- the latter which was granted emergency use authorization by the FDA on Friday -- have been reduced by an estimated 20 percent, Gov. Phil Murphy said at a transit briefing on Friday.
"We're still trying to get to the bottom of what we understand will be 20 percent reduction in both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine shipments, at least in the near term," Murphy said. "I can't give you a crisp answer as to why."
New Jersey officials had been alerted of a snag in Pfizer's distribution on Thursday. The pharmacy company put out a statement saying there are millions of doses of the vaccine sitting in its warehouse as it awaits instructions from the federal government as to where to ship them.
“Pfizer has not had any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed,” spokesperson Eamonn Nolan said in an email. “We are continuing to dispatch our orders to the locations specified by the U.S. government.”
Moderna told NBC New York that it is the federal government's responsibility to direct shipments, while adding that the company still expects to deliver 20 million doses by the end of the month.
In recent days, governors and health leaders in more than a dozen states, including New Jersey, have said the federal government has told them that next week’s allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be less than originally projected. New Jersey anticipates a 34 percent decline in its expected allotment, a spokesperson for the state's Department of Health told News 4 Thursday.
According to NBC News, there are 27 states that are experiencing vaccine supply chain issues, including Connecticut and New Jersey, but not New York.
"I spoke to Pfizer at very senior levels yesterday, frankly, they don't understand this. I think the Pfizer reduction is along the lines of 34 percent and the Moderna reduction is a more modest one," Murphy said Friday.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the 20 percent shortfall will leave the state without nearly 100,000 doses it expected to receive in December. The state was expecting to get 273,000 doses from Pfizer, but that is now down to 183,000 — a 33 percent decline.
In Washington, D.C., two senior Trump administration officials told the Associated Press that states will receive their full allocations, but misunderstandings about vaccine supply and changes to the delivery schedule may be creating confusion.
One official said the initial numbers of available doses that were provided to states were projections based on information from the manufacturers, not fixed allocations. Some state officials may have misunderstood that, the official said.
Changes made to the delivery schedule, at the request of governors, may be contributing to a mistaken impression that fewer doses are coming, the officials said. The key change involves spacing out delivery of states’ weekly allocations over several days to make distribution more manageable.
Murphy began outlining what the state's vaccination sites will look like in the coming weeks and months. First up, the governor says six "mega-sites" are scheduled to open in early January to inoculate the state's frontline health care workers.
The six sites will be in Bergen County: Meadowlands Complex; Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare Mall; Middlesex County: New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center; Burlington County: Moorestown Mall: Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey; Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center.
The state is eyeing at least 200 total vaccination sites beyond the six "mega-sites." After healthcare workers, essential workers and New Jerseyans over the age of 65 will be eligible for the vaccine next.
"Demand for the vaccine will exceed the supply," Persichilli said Friday. Vaccines are only available to people in the "1A" category, currently, which includes hospital health care workers in direct contact with COVID patients.
Persichilli said 2,149 health care workers had received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine by Friday's briefing. Hospitals remain the only sites to distribute the vaccine.
Long-term care residents and staff will be eligible for the first dose of the vaccine starting Dec. 28, the health commissioner announced Friday, through a partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Persichilli said vaccines for that group should finish by February. New Jersey is aiming to vaccinate 70% of the state’s adult population, or nearly 5 million people, within six months, she added.