While the Delta variant continues to generate concern in the country’s health authorities, Gov Phil Murphy announced that all workers in certain state and private health care facilities and high-risk congregate settings will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested at least one to two times per week.
According to nj.gov, the purpose of this requirement is to increase protection to vulnerable populations who have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and the highly transmissible Delta variant.
“While reaching our statewide vaccination goal has so far dampened the impact of the Delta variant in New Jersey, some of our most vulnerable populations remain at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 primarily due to exposure to unvaccinated individuals,” said Governor Murphy.
September 7, the deadline
Health care facilities and other settings covered by the requirement will have until September 7, 2021 for all employees to come into full compliance with the vaccine mandate. At that time, if workers in the facility/setting have not demonstrated that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the entity will be required to have a plan in place to begin a testing program for those workers.
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Murphy said his administration will consider “additional measures” in case vaccination numbers do not reach the levels expected.
This requirement for health care facilites will not alter any entity’s existing stated policy requiring employees to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment without a testing alternative. The Administration will work in collaboration with union and labor partners ahead of the vaccine-requirement deadline and private sector employers are encouraged to similarly work with labor partners as they implement their own vaccination and testing policies.
“We are taking this step today because it has been proven time and time again that vaccines save lives and are our way out of this pandemic. Individuals in health care facilities should have confidence in their caretakers, and this measure will help ensure peace of mind for those in higher-risk settings. And we are prepared to consider additional measures if we do not see a satisfactory increase in vaccination uptake in those settings as this new requirement is put into effect.”
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The State will pursue an aggressive testing cadence for settings of particular concern under its purview, including the Veteran’s Homes overseen by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs are committed to testing unvaccinated workers three times per week. Private facilities are strongly encouraged to consider instituting requirements above and beyond the baseline that will be required by the State.
Impacted state settings:
- Ancora Psychiatric Hospital
- Ann Klein Forensic Center
- Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital
- Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
- Paramus Veterans Memorial Home
- Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home
- Vineland Veterans Memorial Home
- Developmental Centers
- University Hospital
- State correctional facilities
- Juvenile Justice Commission Facilities
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli stressed the importance of protecting the most vulnerable. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to end this pandemic. None of us would want our vulnerable loved ones put at further risk due to their caregiver or healthcare provider.”