On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order mandating that all employees in health care settings or “high-risk congregate” environments must receive COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots. Employees in these venues will soon lose their choice to opt out of the requirement by undergoing weekly testing.
The timetable is simple. All health care workers who remain unvaccinated have until January 27 to get their first vaccination. They must complete their primary vaccination series by February 28. All high-risk, congregate employees have to get their first dose by February 28 and their second shot by March 30.
Anyone who is eligible to receive a booster shot, but has not done so yet, must do so by February 28 for health care workers and March 30 for employees in congregate settings. Any health care workers who will become booster-eligible after the cutoff dates will have to get the booster shot within their first three weeks of booster eligibility.
Governor Murphy said today that the only COVID-19 vaccination exceptions will be for people with medical exemptions and those having “deeply held religious beliefs.”
The discipline for workers violating the Executive Order will be stiff. The Governor stated, “Anyone found in non-compliance will be subject to their workplace’s disciplinary process — up to and including termination of employment.”
There are some Republican lawmakers, both in New Jersey and nationwide, who have voiced opposition to the Governor’s new Executive Order, saying it will lead to more employee shortages at health care facilities, such as nursing homes and hospitals. The Governor, however, points to a United States Supreme Court ruling from last week which upheld a requirement from President Joe Biden’s administration that all health care workers had to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Supreme Court’s ruling last Thursday upheld the President’s requirement by a 5-4 vote.
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