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New Jersey rollout could see college students vaccinated ‘by early spring’

Video and narration by Video Staffer Kareena Bhakta. Illustrations by Head Cartoon Editor Sydney Peng.


As states have started to roll out coronavirus vaccines across the nation, we’re here to break down when different groups in New Jersey can expect the doses so many have been waiting for.


For The Daily Princetonian, I’m Kareena Bhakta. This is The Debrief.

On December 11, 2020, the FDA approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Four days later, New Jersey’s tiered, two-phase plan began with the first allocation of about 400,000 doses.

The first phase is split into three tiers:

1A. At the top of the list are health care workers and long-term care residents – they were the first to receive the vaccine back in December. Recently, Governor Phil Murphy added police officers and firefighters to this tier. 

1B. Other essential workers became eligible for the vaccine in Tier 1B, beginning January 7. These include other “sworn law enforcement personnel” and first responders. Initially, just residents 75 years and older were also eligible in this tier; however, on January 13, Governor Murphy added adults 65 years and older and persons aged 16–64 with medical conditions that increase their chances of getting the virus, including smokers.

The state plans to move from B to C as more doses of the vaccine become available, but it’s not yet clear when that change will come.


In addition, the New Jersey Department of Health notes that “the movement between vaccination eligibility phases may be fluid.”

1C. The last tier of Phase 1 will include the remaining “essential workers.” An interim plan released last month included people living or working at colleges and universities in this tier. If this holds, students on campuses would get the vaccine by early spring, though the process of defining categories is still ongoing and expected to be finalized in “early 2021.”

Finally, Phase 2 includes the rest of the adult population of the state. 

Last Friday, Princeton announced it will serve as its own distribution center, vaccinating University community members in accordance with the statewide tier system. 

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Princeton Health Department Officer Jeffrey Grosser said that he expects vaccines to be available to the 1C tier — which could include the campus community — by early spring.

Uncertainty still remains over what the introduction of the vaccine will mean for the pandemic. Governor Murphy said on the day the vaccine was released:

Murphy (video): We know this is not the end, but we know that we are witnessing, at least, the beginning of the end.

As we wait for the vaccine roll-out to fully unfold, let’s do so masked and six feet apart. 

Thanks for watching!