Gov. Murphy defends decision to prioritize smokers for COVID vaccine

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday pushed back against criticism that the state is allowing smokers to get the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of some other groups of essential workers.
Murphy said at his COVID briefing that the state is simply following federal guidelines by including smokers in the vaccine rollout. The CDC states that smokers are high-risk if they contract the coronavirus.
“I understand the optics here and that attacking folks who took up the habit of smoking and who are not addicted may be politically expedient,” Murphy said. “But at this time, we are stuck in a position where we have to prioritize our limited federally produced, or at least distributed, vaccine doses based on medical fact and not political want."
The governor said that his goal is to avoid a patient surge in hospitals and that it is about who is more vulnerable to a severe case of the virus.