NJ expands eligibility for COVID vaccine

About 2,000 fans will be allowed to attend tonight's game against the New York Islanders.

Video Transcript

- Good news. More help is on the way. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being shipped out to states today. And because of that, New Jersey is expanding its vaccine eligibility all month long.

- New Jersey reporter Toni Yates live in the Essex County town of Maplewood. She begins our coverage. Toni.

TONI YATES: Well, Sandra and Bill, there is hope that vaccinating teachers will be that one critical step to finally getting students packing their backpacks, heading out the door, going back to school, back to their teachers, back to their friends, and back to their extracurricular activities.

PHIL MURPHY: As we continue to work toward seeing all of our students back in their schools, ensuring full access to the vaccine for their educators is a big step to take.

TONI YATES: Beginning March 15, teachers in all job descriptions with a hand in carrying out in-school instruction can finally stand in line to receive their vaccines.

PHIL MURPHY: We will work, obviously, with Judy's team, the Department of Education, our partners and NJEA on means of ensuring full access without interrupting the school day.

TONI YATES: Of New Jersey's 811 school districts, only 110 of them are all in-person. 533 are hybrid, leaving nearly 170 on all virtual status. Many see finally getting teachers vaccinated as the one crucial step in satisfying their concerns to get them back into schools.

- This isn't an either/or thing. This isn't teacher safety or education. We're advocating for both.

TONI YATES: While the New Jersey Education Association praises the move, it wants even more educators included, saying, quote, "We call on the administration to immediately extend that access to employees in higher education, who are equally as exposed and equally critical to fully reopening our state for in-person instruction."

Getting more vaccines into arms is being made a bit easier, as Johnson & Johnson, headquartered here in New Jersey, began rolling out its one-shot vaccine. And educators and support staff aren't the only essential workers coming due for their shots, at least by March 29.

PHIL MURPHY: Motor Vehicles Commission, NJ Transit, and other transportation workers.

TONI YATES: So by the 15th, other public safety officials who have not gotten their vaccines can join migrant farm workers, the homeless community, clients in homeless shelters and women's shelters. They can all step up for the vaccine. And then by the 29th, food production, eldercare, warehousing and trucking, social services, hospitality, postal and shipping clergy, and those in the judicial system, and election workers can all stand in line, finally, to get their vaccines.