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NEW JERSEY (WABC) — New Jersey has opened up COVID-19 vaccinations to residents 65 and older, as well as those from 16 to 64 with serious medical conditions or who are smokers.

Seniors in Hoboken received their first shots Thursday morning at the Hoboken University Medical Center, with former Hoboken Fire Chief Richard Tremediti among the first in line.

“Over the last several months, our administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” Governor Phil Murphy said. “Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”

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Those chronic conditions that allow for eligibility include:
–Cancer
–Chronic kidney disease
–Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
–Down syndrome
–Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy)
–Obesity and severe obesity
–Sickle cell disease
–Type 2 Diabetes
–Smokers

“Expanding access to vaccine to individuals in these categories is critical, as we know they are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “80% of COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey have been among those 65 and older, and overall 67% of deaths had one or more underlying conditions reported.”

Murphy said the decision stemmed from a few factors, including what he said was a “strong appetite” for expanding the vaccine among the state’s 71 hospitals, along with guidance from the Trump administration and “signals” from the incoming Joe Biden White House.

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New Jersey has vaccinated 264,000 people, out of about 400,000 vaccines initially distributed to the state, according to Health Department data.

So far, 220 of more than 600 nursing homes have completed vaccinations, the governor said. That totals about 28,500 people.

Murphy’s administration is aiming to have nearly 5 million people, or about 70% of the adult population, vaccinated in six months.

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