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COVID In New Jersey: With Vaccine On Horizon, Gov. Phil Murphy Confident State Ready For Distribution

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- U.S. approval of two COVID-19 vaccines is still pending, but intense planning is underway for distribution. Each state will be responsible for most of the actual rollout. On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey is ready.

The first batches of the vaccine will be given to those most at risk, but supplies will be limited, so the virus will continue to spread -- especially during the holiday season.

On Wednesday, Murphy said that travel should remain limited.

"The news is really good," Murphy said, "but it's not a light switch we can flip tomorrow."

Murphy says the first doses of a COVID vaccine are just weeks away from being distributed in New Jersey, and while intense planning remains underway, the state has identified who gets the first shots.

"Begin where you'd want us to begin with health care workers, essential frontline workers, vulnerable populations and expand out from there," Murphy said.

Nationwide, 24 million Americans will get the first doses. Once approved, the first batch of Pfizer vaccine (6.4 million) is expected to be delivered to hospitals on Dec. 15.

The Moderna vaccine will follow a week later on Dec. 22.

"This is upon us," Murphy said.

The next phase, 1B, expected to begin in January, will focus on the 87 million essential workers -- teachers, police, firefighters, and workers in food production and transportation.

Phase 1C will include adults over 65 years old and adults with "high-risk medical conditions."

"It's very complicated because we're going to have multiple vaccines, multiple groups to get vaccinated, tracking to make sure everybody is getting their second dose," Dr. Ashish Jha said.

But most people won't have access to the vaccine until the spring, and now with hospital cases continuing to increase and growing concerns about even more spread during the holiday season, Murphy again urged people to stay home as much as possible and away from others.

"We're asking everyone to simply not travel unless it's for essential and essential purpose," Murphy said.

There are currently more than 3,200 people hospitalized in New Jersey. That has several hospitals going on divert status because of high patient volume but also staffing issues.


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