Governor Phil Murphy said the school students vaccination measure announced in California is not an option that can be ruled out in New Jersey. According to the Democratic governor, that mandate is not occurring in the state for now, but it is an option.
“I don’t anticipate we’re gonna need to do that, in terms of mandating the kids to have it,” Murphy said during his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton. “But it’s an option, I think, we leave on the table.”
As reported by nj.com, the Garden State required schools return to all in-person classes this fall, with students and staff members in pre-school through 12th grade required to wear masks inside.
The state is also requiring all public and private school employees to be fully vaccinated against the virus or undergo regular testing by Oct. 18.
Additionally, public school students in New Jersey are already required to be vaccinated against numerous illnesses, such as measles, mumps, polio, and chickenpox.
Murphy believes that despite the possibility of facing some bumps in efforts to reduce CVID-19 cases, the strategies currently in place are the right ones. So, for the time being, applying a California-like option for school students is a remote possibility.
The right package
“We think we’ve got the right package for school in place. We also acknowledge that as the weather starts to slip on us and we’re spending a lot more of our lives inside, including in schools, we may see some bumps. But we think this is the right package in place.”
These considerations have been prompted by California Gov. Gavin Newsom announcement. Newson said the state will add COVID-19 vaccine to 10 other required immunizations for school students. “Vaccines work,” the governor said.
The mandate will be gradually introduced as the United States government fully approves the vaccine for younger age groups. Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is only authorized for emergency use in children 12 to 17 years old. Children younger than 12 cannot yet receive the vaccine. There would be exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
Not a zero reality
Murphy also noted that New Jersey’s mask mandate for school students has a temporary character. It is not “forever and always” because the state’s COVID-19 case count is “never gonna go to zero.”
“We’re not going to hold ourselves to a zero reality here,” the governor said. “We’re gonna make moves and make decisions based on what we think is a reasonable state of the virus.”
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has endorsed California’s initiative on school students. “People need to realize that having a vaccine requirement for schools is not a new, novel thing that is very peculiar or specific to COVID-19,” Fauci said during an interview on Sunday on CBS. “We’ve been doing this for decades.”
Ed Lifshitz, director of the state Department of Health’s communicable disease service, said he believes it will be safe to lift masks in schools “when either the virus is less common, the virus has become less deadly, or there are better prevention measures.”