While many are relieved that COVID-19 vaccines have finally been given the green light by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), states are rolling out their distribution programs vastly differently. And since supply is limited, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending groups it believes should be first in line, like healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities.
As states begin to move into the next phases, many are questioning New Jersey’s decision to bump smokers to the front of the line — ahead of some essential workers.
“Smoking puts you at significant risk for an adverse result from COVID-19 and there are 2 million smokers in New Jersey who fit into these categories,” New Jersey’s Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said, reports NJ.com.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the head-scratching expanded eligibility guidelines Wednesday, saying that anyone over the age of 65, or those with specific medical conditions, can start signing up for the booster as soon as Thursday, the outlet reported.
The conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, Down syndrome, severe obesity, Type-2 diabetes and a host of other maladies, the outlet reported.
With the expanded guidelines, an estimated 4.47 million residents, or about half of the Garden State’s 9 million people, are now eligible to receive the vaccine, the outlet said — but it’s not like anyone will need to show proof.
“No documentation of the medical condition or your age will be required,” Persichilli said, per NJ.com. (NY Post)
Many on social media criticized the move, while others began joking that they were going to start taking up smoking in order to be eligible.
I wonder how many NJ teachers — the group that was supposed to be next — will now take up smoking just so they can get their vaccine to stay safe. @GovMurphy, why the change in plans? #njed #newjersey #teacher https://t.co/UZSrv5s0c1— Miss Nikki ?? (@MissNikkiIn5th) January 14, 2021
Bout to start smoking https://t.co/Yz7Jb5SYPE— Eric Friedlander (@Efried97) January 13, 2021
Only in Murphy’s NJ do we indulge this kind of nonsense. Individuals with lung cancer or COPD are already placed in a heightened risk group, as they should be. @GovMurphy, should young New Jerseyans take up smoking to skip the line? What an absolute joke.#OneAndDoneIn21 #FixNJ https://t.co/ujYn1jVN5r— Josh Kutner (@JoshKutner37) January 13, 2021