The state may reduce vaccine deliveries to sites that run afoul of the state’s distribution rules, Gov. Phil Murphy said at Wednesday’s virus briefing.
The governor’s comments, the first clear penalty he’s outlined for vaccine violators, came in response to an NJ 101.5 report that said executives at the Hunterdon County Medical Center and its associated firms, their spouses and their adult children were vaccinated in December, when only healthcare workers were cleared for inoculations.
“If this is volitional, it’s completely unacceptable,” Murphy said. “Listen, among other things, if people are monkeying around like that, it’s going to impact the amount of doses that they’re going to get going forward from us, and I want to make sure folks hear that loud and clear.”
Per the report, at least two longtime donors to the Hunterdon Healthcare Foundation were vaccinated against COVID-19 on Dec. 18, just a day after the Hunterdon Medical Center received its first tranche of vaccines.
The governor stopped short of condemning the officials, saying he wasn’t familiar enough with the situation to comment further.
“I only saw the headline, so I have not read the article,” he said. “If that turns out to be the case and they volitionally did that in the face of guidance that was crystal clear, that’s incredibly offensive.”
But state officials are looking into the matter, he said. Hunterdon Healthcare officials have denied any wrongdoing, saying they followed vaccine protocols.
State officials Wednesday declined to hammer counties that have refused appointments for New Jerseyans who lived elsewhere.
“We have told them they can give priority to individuals who live, work and study in their county, and if other individuals show up, they’re to take their name, their number and have a callback system so they’re not necessarily out-of-hand turning people away,” Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. “But they can give priority.”
Such sites, she said, are funded and staffed by counties.
“They’re doing a great job, but we’re telling them to do it with a soft hand,” Persichilli said.