Covid NJ: Second Booster Vaccine Approved for Ages 50+; Gov. Murphy Positive but Asymptomatic

Sources: New Jersey; NJ Spotlight News

Governor Phil Murphy has tested positive for COVID-19.

“This afternoon, as part of a regularly-scheduled testing regime, Governor Murphy took a rapid antigen test that came back positive for COVID-19,” Communications Director Mahen Gunaratna said yesterday.

He subsequently took a PCR test, which also came back positive and is currently asymptomatic and feeling well, Gunaratna noted.

The contact tracing process has begun to notify everyone who may have come into contact with Murphy during the potential infection window, and the Governor will cancel in-person events and isolate for the next five days, Gunaratna said.

“The Governor has diligently taken precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 and encourages everyone eligible to get vaccinated and boosted, as he has done, to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus,” Gunaratna, adding that Murphy will continue to monitor for symptoms before taking an additional PCR test.

Vaccinated individuals 50 years or older — and those as young as 12 who are significantly immunocompromised — can now get a second COVID-19 booster shot, thanks to federal government decisions designed to increase protection among those at higher risk of infection.

In a press release, the FDA said its decision was informed by data reported by Israel that showed no new safety concerns among some 700,000 people there who received a fourth Pfizer vaccination at least four months after their third shot. A separate study of 120 people who got an additional Moderna booster also revealed no new concerns, the agency said.

But experts appeared split on the need to allow for a second booster, or fourth shot of the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. Some saw little downside and welcomed the potential additional protection in the announcement that has been rumored for weeks. Others questioned the government’s decision-making process, which didn’t involve the same public review as previous COVID-19 vaccine policies, and the timing of the move, given the current low prevalence of disease.

More than 6.8 million New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — with either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson serum — and some 3.2 million have also had a booster. But more than one in five eligible residents are not immunized, according to state data, and vaccine protection varies significantly by county.

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