Vaccination rate among 12- to 15-year-olds lags behind older teens, NJ says

NJ student COVID-19 outbreaks total 96 so far this school year
Girl gets COVID-19 vaccine
Photo credit Sara Smith/KYW Newsradio

SOUTH JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — After New Jersey reported an increase in COVID-19 outbreaks at schools, state health experts are working to get more teenagers vaccinated.

New Jersey had 27 more school outbreaks this week, impacting seven staff members and 125 students. That brings the total number of outbreaks so far this school year to 96. An outbreak is defined as three or more cases among students or staff.

The total number of cases stands at 521, which the governor said is expected in a state with 600 school districts.

State epidemiologist Christina Tan assured that the figures are not alarming.

“I wouldn’t say that this is an acceleration,” she said. “It just kind of reflects what we normally see. We do expect to see outbreaks this time of the year.”

Still, New Jersey is trying to get more eligible students vaccinated. State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, at the governor’s COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, said 70.1% of 16- and 17-year-olds have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but only 57.1% of those aged 12 to 15 have received the shot.

“We’re working diligently with these schools and local officials in every municipality to identify those individuals and try to encourage them and their parents to line up and get a shot in the arm,” Persichilli said.

Overall, she is pleased with the teenage vaccination rate, but she wishes more of the younger ones who are eligible would roll up their sleeves.

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