Murphy announces vaccine mandate for New Jersey workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings

(The Center Square) – Workers in many state and private health care facilities and high-risk congregate settings in New jersey must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo testing at least once per week.

Facilities subject to the mandate have until Sept. 7 for their employees to comply or have a plan to test unvaccinated employees “one to two times per week.”

Gov. Phil Murphy announced the new mandate Monday, saying it will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and particularly the delta variant. The requirement applies to public and private entities under the state’s purview, including veterans’ homes, state prisons, home health agencies, licensed behavioral health facilities and long-term care and assisted-living facilities.

“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,” Murphy said in a news release.

“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,” the governor added. “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.”

The new mandate does not change entities’ existing policies mandating employees to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment without a testing alternative. However, during a Monday media briefing, Murphy and New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli urged New Jerseyans to be vaccinated.

Last week, Murphy and Persichilli recommended all New Jerseyans, regardless of their vaccination status, wear masks when indoors, and on Monday, Murphy said politics did not play a role in not calling for a full mask mandate. Additionally, Murphy said he was not prepared to call for a vaccine passport, saying he worried it would disproportionately impact minority communities.

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