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NJ vaccine eligibility will expand to individuals 16+ on April 19

<h5>A sticker handed out after a COVID-19 vaccination at CVS</h5>
<h6>Celia Buchband / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
A sticker handed out after a COVID-19 vaccination at CVS
Celia Buchband / The Daily Princetonian

Beginning on April 19, all New Jersey residents over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The expansion, which Governor Phil Murphy announced on April 5, beats the state’s original goal of May 1 by nearly two weeks.

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The announcement came on the first day that vaccine eligibility expanded to all educators and support staff at colleges and universities in New Jersey, including all University researchers and students who work on campus. Those guidelines also made eligible people age 55 and older, individuals age 16 and over with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and new groups of essential workers.

The University has been prepared to be a vaccine distribution site and host on-campus clinics for community members since early January. However, it is still unclear if or when the institution will receive a vaccine supply to distribute to members of the University community. 

“We are in contact with state and local officials to ensure they know that we stand ready to vaccinate members of the University community if the state allocates doses to the University for that purpose,” Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “The University has not received any vaccines and does not know when it will receive any.”

The University has continued to urge community members to register with New Jersey’s vaccine scheduling system. On March 29, Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni and Vice President for Human Resources Lianne Sullivan-Crowley sent a memo to University faculty and staff detailing the vaccination process, and encouraged them to seek vaccination wherever and whenever possible.

The University has also emphasized that students are still required to abide by the Social Contract even after they have been vaccinated, and vaccinated individuals must also remain a part of the asymptomatic testing protocol. According to a previous statement from Hotchkiss, the University does “not think it safe or practical to apply different rules to individual students based on their vaccination status.”

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The University has not yet determined if students will be required to be vaccinated in order to return to campus in fall 2021 — a requirement Rutgers, Cornell University, and several other schools recently announced.

“We have not determined whether a Covid vaccine will be mandatory for students next fall,” Hotchkiss wrote. “We will make a decision in the coming months about that and other health protocols for fall 2021 with a focus on the health and safety of the University community and guided by government requirements, public health best practices and the state of the pandemic.

Ultimately, the goal remains to resume a fully in-person residential program of “teaching, research, and extra- and co-curricular activities” in the fall, as Kulkarni and Sullivan-Crowley wrote in their memo.

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