New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is slamming anti-vaccine protesters as the “ultimate knuckleheads” as he and other officials battle those who have contributed to lagging uptake of the COVID-19 shots.
“You’ve lost your minds. You are the ultimate knuckleheads. And because of what you are saying and standing for, people are losing their life,” the Democratic governor said during an event Wednesday in Union City.
Mr. Murphy, who faces reelection in November, was signing a measure that extends eviction relief. He said New Jersey is “still in the fight” against COVID-19 despite progress this year.
“Look in the mirror. Look in the mirror,” he told protesters.
Nearly six in 10 New Jersey residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a better rate than the 49% nationally but below what scientists say is needed to wrangle the virus.
Mr. Murphy’s pushback comes as governors and mayors plead with their residents amid a surge in the delta variant. Some states, notably Louisiana, have seen daily uptake of the shots more than triple as they contend with full hospitals.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday said it is important for as many people to get vaccinated as possible to tamp down the likelihood of transmission and avoid a situation in which the coronavirus evolves into more and more variants that might erode the protection of existing shots.
“People who say I don’t want to get vaccinated because, ’It’s me and I’ll worry about me, I’m not having any impact on anybody else.’ That’s just not the case, because when people don’t get vaccinated, it allows the virus to circulate through the community,” Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Even if the infection doesn’t make a person particularly ill, “that person is still a vehicle for the spread to other people,” Dr. Fauci said.
The Food and Drug Administration is working to review and fully approve vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that are currently being used under an emergency use authorization.
Experts and officials believe full approval will give holdouts the confidence to get vaccinated.
A New York Times report said the Pfizer version could be approved by September, while Moderna said Thursday it will complete its submission to the FDA this month.
Moderna also said there is evidence its shots remain durable through at least six months, though recognized the delta variant will pose a challenge.
“We are pleased that our COVID-19 vaccine is showing durable efficacy of 93% through six months, but recognize that the Delta variant is a significant new threat so we must remain vigilant,” CEO Stéphane Bancel said.