During a coronavirus briefing on Friday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy spoke out against the “fake story” that smokers were getting the COVID-19 vaccine over other key workers.
As NJ Advanced Media reported, Garden State has expanded its vaccination program to include 2 million smokers between the ages of 16 and 64. Enlargement has allowed people in this age range with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, advanced kidney failure and more. The enlargement makes about 4.47 million people, about half of the state’s population, eligible for vaccination.
Some people have criticized the move, believing that smokers have an advantage over teachers. CBS New York reported that Teach NJ, part of the Teach Coalition, which “defends[s] for fair public funding of public schools in New Jersey, “urged teachers to stay ahead of smokers.
Murphy responded to allegations at a news conference and Twitter stream. He said accusations that smokers skipped the queue in front of teachers was a misleading “cheap shot”.
“I have to reject the false story that is common in some circles that we vaccinate smokers until we vaccinate another group, whether it’s our blessing, heroic educators or other incredibly important and heroic key workers,” he said.
At the briefing, Murphy said that about 100,000 doses of the vaccine are delivered to the state each week and that providing the vaccine to high-risk residents is a priority, and that the decision is in line with CDC guidelines.
“We cannot ignore the critical medical fact that this is a respiratory virus. Our goal from day one is to fight to save every possible life and make our decisions based on facts, science and medicine. This is a simple fact. , whether we like it or not, that smoking, like other chronic and medical conditions, puts someone at higher risk of a more severe case of COVID, ”he said.
He also noted that providing vaccines to those at risk is an attempt to avoid hospitalizations in humans, as the coronavirus is a respiratory disease.
“I understand the optics here and that attacking people who are used to smoking and who are now addicted may be politically expedient. But we are currently stuck in a situation where we have to give priority to limited federally produced or at least distributed doses. “Vaccines based on medical fact, not political needs. We need to save lives and protect our hospitals, among other things, from an influx of patients,” he said.
Murphy also noted that teachers are included in the extended eligibility for the vaccine, as are transit workers, grocery store employees and other front-line workers.
As previously reported, the spread of the COVID vaccine in the country has been criticized and seen as “extremely poor”, with some exceptions. President-elect Joe Biden has promised to distribute 100 million photos in his first 100 days.
Newsweek turned to the governor’s office for comment.