The impact of COVID-19 is still waning in New Jersey, but the deadly virus continues to take its toll, and hospitals have reported nearly two dozen deaths daily over the past week.

Recent deaths include two infants, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday, bringing the total number of minors who died in New Jersey to COVID-19 to 14. “Thank God there were few (pediatric deaths), but each is a loss of a precious, valuable young life, ”he said at a weekly media briefing on the pandemic.

These realities – along with the delay in the perception of additional COVID-19 vaccinations – prompted government officials to announce the start of Boost NJ2 Week next Wednesday. The state Department of Health is working with Walmart and other vaccination clinic owners to promote the event, which will include pop-up clinics and potential gifts designed to encourage more people to get this critical third vaccination.

An open invitation for children

“I hope that all those who are not yet aware of their vaccinations will join us between February 23 and March 1 to get vaccinated,” State Health Commissioner Judy Persikili said on Wednesday. “I especially want to encourage all parents of children over the age of 5 to visit one of our hundreds of vaccination sites and vaccinate their children.”

While 77% of New Jersey residents eligible for the vaccine are considered fully vaccinated – one Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of Moderna or Pfizer serum – only 51% also received the vaccine a few months later, Persicili said. State data show that these additional injections dramatically reduce the chances of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death, especially compared to the high-transmission version of the amicron, which exploded here in December.

The level of immunization in New Jersey varies greatly depending on age, geography and other factors, but leaves young children less protected. While six out of 10 children aged 12 to 17 received all of their vaccinations, less than three out of 10 adolescents in the 5-11 age group did so.

Federal officials had planned next week to consider approving lower doses for children aged 6 months to 4 years, but the review has since been postponed until later this spring. Persikili said Wednesday that the state continues to meet with pediatricians and take other steps to plan the final deployment.

Rise in pediatric cases

While children are generally less prone to serious diseases than COVID-19, they are not insured, and the number of child cases, hospitalizations and deaths has increased in recent months due to an unprecedented omicron outbreak. Six minors in New Jersey have died from Christmas alone, according to state figures, five of them are babies.

Due to the weakening effect of omicron in recent weeks, the number of cases and hospitalizations in all age groups has decreased. The level of COVID-19 infection among school-age children is about a third of what it was in the second week of January, state data show. The rate among teachers is less than one-sixth of the same figure. However, 124 students and 54 educators picked up the virus in the classroom just last week, according to government figures.

“Omicron is still among us – it may have fewer goals, but it is still among us,” Murphy said. “The numbers are clearly going in the right direction,” he added, but not yet warm enough to spend days outdoors where transmission is less likely. “Take care of the protection until the end of winter and get stronger,” he said.

The idea for Boost NJ2 Week came from Walmart leaders, Persicili explained, and is based on the success of the megachain during the initial Boost NJ Day campaign, which took place on December 15 to mark the anniversary of the first COVID-19 in New Jersey. -19 vaccination. Nearly 45,000 New Jersey residents were vaccinated that day on government websites, public clinics and pharmacies, including 6,500 who were vaccinated at Walmart.

Now residents can almost get vaccinated against COVID-19 2000 seats nationwide. Persicili said nearly 200 sites have signed up to participate in the upcoming Increase NJ2 week promotion including schools and churches, universities, hospitals, pharmacies and public clinics. The mobile unit will also be sent to Patterson, she said, and health department officials plan to visit facilities in Trenton, Lakewood and Wayne to help mark the event.

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