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The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in New Jersey

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, veterans homes and other long-term care facilities, and paid and volunteer health care workers (Phase 1A)

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Local vaccination sites, including community centers, hospitals, local health departments, medical clinics, pharmacies and vaccination events, can be found on the state’s online COVID-19 Vaccine Locations page. The page lists providers’ names, locations, contact details and links to websites, so you can try to schedule an appointment directly with the providers. You also can sign up for the state’s Vaccine Scheduling System, which helps you find vaccination providers to pre-register for an appointment. The state system notifies you when appointments become available, but you must book one yourself.
Governor Murphy Visits Middlesex Countys Covid-19 Vaccination 'Megasite'
The New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison is being used as a
COVID-19 vaccination site.
Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

  • Retail pharmacy chains — including CVS, Rite Aid and ShopRite — have created online COVID-19 vaccine pages where you can register and search for appointments across their locations.
  • Through your employer or living facility. Most New Jerseyans who qualify for a vaccination because of their job, such as health care workers, or because of where they live, such as at a nursing home, are being vaccinated through their workplaces or the facilities where they reside. Check with your employer or residence before scheduling a vaccination appointment.
  • Through your house of worship or community organization. The state has launched a community-based vaccination program to provide equitable access of the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved communities in Somerset, Trenton, Elizabeth, Vineland and Paterson. These sites operate as closed points of distribution for members of the immediate community only. Vaccination appointments are handled directly through partnering houses of worship, community organizations and local community leaders, who will inform you if you qualify.  
  • Through your veterans Affairs (VA) health facility. Veterans who receive care from VA health facilities, VA health care personnel, and family caregivers of veterans may be eligible for vaccinations through the VA. You will be contacted when a vaccine is available at your local VA clinic or hospital. The VA plans eventually to offer a free COVID-19 vaccine to all veterans receiving health care through the VA. More information is here.
  • The state’s COVID-19 call center at 855-568-0545 can answer questions about the Vaccine Scheduling System from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, in more than 240 languages. The call center’s ability to schedule appointments for callers has been paused temporarily. Alternatively, you can submit an online form if you need support.
  • Vaccine supplies are limited everywhere and available only to those now eligible under each state’s phased plan. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be very hard to get, as available time slots are booked quickly, and you may experience long wait times on the phone. If a time slot is not available, you may be put on the site’s waiting list. Some people are signing up at multiple sites to increase their chances of getting an appointment. Once you have a confirmed appointment, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule or confirm another with any other provider so that vaccine appointments stay open for others.

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are eligible because of an underlying medical condition or comorbidity, you may need a note from your doctor or some other form of proof. If you are eligible based on your work, bring proof of employment such as a pay stub, badge or letter from your employer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.

Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next?

On March 15, certain essential workers including pre-K to 12 educators and support staff, childcare providers, transportation workers, migrant farmers and others; members of tribal communities; individuals experiencing homelessness; and those living in shelters will become eligible for vaccinations.

On March 29, other essential workers including those in food production, hospitality, eldercare, warehousing, postal services and other industries will become eligible, too.

AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines because the science shows that older people are at higher risk of death from the coronavirus.

How are residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities getting vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in [state] are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines at free on-site clinics. 

Nationally, almost all nursing homes, which were given first priority, have completed their vaccination clinics. Most assisted living and other long-term care facilities are conducting their final clinics. All the vaccination clinics are slated to wrap up by late March.

I’ve heard that some vaccines require a second shot.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable.

If you made your first-dose appointment through the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System, the portal will automatically schedule your second-dose appointment and send you an email with the details. If you scheduled a first-dose appointment directly with a provider, they should ask you to schedule your second-dose appointment at your first-dose appointment or earlier. Contact your provider if this didn't happen.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot.  

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. 

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?  

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated? 

Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-world conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose.

The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity and continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing.

In addition, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccines are against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus initially identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere, although they would still provide some protection.

Helpful Resources

  • The state’s COVID-19 vaccine information page includes additional FAQs on vaccination eligibility, how to get a vaccination, the state's Vaccine Scheduling System, vaccination providers and how the vaccines work.
  • The New Jersey Travel Independence Program (NJTIP) has prepared an online list to help people reach COVID-19 vaccination sites using public transportation. It will be updated about every two weeks. If you have questions, call 973-275-5555. 

This guide, originally published Jan. 16, was updated March 4 with new information on vaccination eligibility and the status of vaccinations in long-term care facilities.

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AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins

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