Gov. Murphy's order requires COVID-19 booster for health care workers, ends test option

Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order that requires all health care workers in New Jersey to get a COVID-19 booster shot – especially for those in high-risk settings such as nursing homes and prisons.
The order gets rid of the option to get a COVID-19 test for those who are unvaccinated or do not have the booster.
Murphy signed the order on Wednesday in Galloway.
“We are no longer going to look past those who continue to put their colleagues and perhaps, I think even more importantly, those who are their responsibility, in danger of COVID. It has to stop,” Murphy said.
The new executive order only gives exemption to those with a medical condition or religious reasons.
"The booster rates are unacceptable…they're too low,” Murphy said.
Health care workers must have the first dose of the vaccine by Jan. 27 and the second dose or a booster shot by Feb. 28.
Those who work in high-risk settings such as long-term care facilities and prisons have until Feb. 16 for the first dose of the vaccine and March 30 for a second dose or booster shot. Those who are not yet eligible for the booster have three weeks after they become eligible to get it, moving forward.
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“Anyone found in non-compliance will be subject to their workplace’s disciplinary process up to and including termination of employment,” Murphy said.
But not everyone was happy with the governor’s new order.
Republican state Sen. Anthony Bucco said in part, "Nursing homes, group homes, and veterans homes are already struggling to find enough skilled staff to care for New Jersey's most vulnerable residents. By eliminating the testing alternative to vaccination for workers in these settings, Gov. Murphy is virtually guaranteeing that residents will face a shortage of caregivers."
Murphy said he has no plans to expand this mandate to other places of work.