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How and Where to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine in New Jersey

Governor Murphy Visits Middlesex Countys Covid-19 Vaccination 'Megasite'
Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

En español | Who is eligible to get vaccinated?

  • Everyone age 12 and up

Where can I get a vaccine — or a booster, if I'm eligible?

  • Certain retail pharmacies, including CVS (and some of its Target-based pharmacies), Rite Aid, ShopRite, Walmart, Sam's Club and Walgreens, are offering vaccines and boosters, with some sites accepting walk-ins. Search their online COVID-19 vaccine pages for locations and appointments. Note that some require you to answer questions about your vaccination status before presenting the option for a Pfizer booster.
  • The federal government’s vaccines, lets you search for vaccines and boosters by zip code. Get the same information by texting your zip code to 438829 or by calling 800-232-0233 (TTY: 888-720-7489).
  • Local and state vaccination sites, including community centers, hospitals, local health departments, medical clinics, independent pharmacies and vaccine megasites can be found on the state’s online Vaccine Appointment Finder website. Many providers will direct you to the state's centralized platform, the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS), to schedule an appointment. The NJVSS, which you must register with, allows you to search appointments at multiple sites, some of which are taking walk-ins. Note that the NJVSS is currently unable to schedule appointments for boosters. NJ Department of Health and Microsoft are updating the system to accommodate booster doses as soon as possible.
  • Community vaccination events, such as mobile clinics and pop-up sites, are being hosted around the state. Visit the COVID-19 Community Calendar for a list of events.
  • At home, if you are homebound. Request an in-home vaccination appointment by completing a form in English or Spanish. Once submitted, the NJ Department of Health will share your information with a home health agency, local health department, or other vaccination provider and you will be contacted to schedule an in-home appointment.
  • Through your employer or living facility. Some New Jerseyans who work or live in healthcare settings, such hospitals or nursing homes, may be able to get vaccinated through their workplaces or residences. Check before scheduling an appointment.
  • The state’s COVID-19 call center at 855-568-0545 can help you register with the NJVSS, answer questions about the vaccine, provide contact information for sites, check your registration status, and update your registration information. The hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day with assistance available in more than 240 different languages.
  • The state's seniors-specific call center at 856-249-7007 can assist those 65 and older with registering for, scheduling and rescheduling appointments from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

How do I know if I need a booster shot?

Pfizer boosters are authorized for those 65-plus, residents at long-term care facilities and people ages 18 to 64 at high risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 or at high risk of repeated exposure due to their jobs, such as health care staff, teachers and grocery store workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends those eligible for boosters receive one at least six months after their second vaccine shot.  

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters are expected to be authorized in the coming weeks.  

If you are immunocompromised and think you may be eligible for a third shot, the CDC recommends talking with your health care provider about your medical condition and whether getting an additional dose makes sense. You can make a third-dose appointment at the locations above or get a walk-in appointment at some pharmacies. You’ll need the dates of your previous COVID-19 vaccinations (available on your vaccination card) when making an appointment for a third dose. You may also need to present proof of your medical condition.

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.

How are vaccinations working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities?

Most residents and staff of New Jersey’s long-term care facilities were offered first and second doses through a federal program that provided free on-site vaccinations in late 2020 and early 2021. The program has ended, but the federal government continues to allocate COVID-19 vaccines — and now boosters, for those who received Pfizer shots — to pharmacies that are partnered with long-term care facilities to provide vaccinations, mainly on-site.  

Facilities that don’t have a pharmacy partner are encouraged to work with local or state health departments — or the federal government, if need be — to provide vaccinations. 
The federal government has ordered all nursing home staff to be vaccinated in order to receive Medicare and Medicaid dollars. Additionally, New Jersey is requiring all workers in other long-term care facilities, such as assisted living facilities, to be fully vaccinated or be subject to COVID-19 testing at a minimum of one to two times per week.

AARP is calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for nursing home residents and staff. 

Which 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. A Food and Drug Administration warning says the vaccine has been connected with rare, severe blood clots in a small number of recipients, especially in women age 50 years and younger, and an increased risk of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. 

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.

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.

What should I do with my vaccine card?

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card to schedule a third vaccine dose, for certain immunocompromised people, or a booster shot.  You may also need it for certain kinds of travel or other activities and may want to take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. But experts warn that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft.

If you’ve lost your vaccine card, call the site where you were vaccinated to request a new one or a copy of your vaccination record. You can also contact your state health department to request a replacement card or a copy of your record.

When will kids be able to get vaccinated?

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for those age 12 and older; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Both Pfizer and Moderna are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months.

How protected am I post-vaccination? I’ve heard about breakthrough infections.

 All three vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections and are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from the disease. But no vaccine is 100 percent effective and breakthrough infections, while rare, have been reported.   
According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, breakthrough infections affect only 0.01 to 0.29 percent of fully vaccinated people in states that have reported data. The CDC is tracking the tiny percentage of fully vaccinated people in the United States who have been hospitalized with or died from COVID-19.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and after the second dose of the two-dose shots.

Due to the continuing circulation of the Delta variant, the CDC is recommending fully vaccinated people in areas with high and substantial COVID-19 transmission wear a mask in indoor settings, including schools.

The CDC also recommends continuing to wear a mask on planes, buses and trains and other shared transport while traveling into, within or out of the United States.

Helpful Resources

  • The state’s COVID-19 vaccine information page includes additional FAQs on how to get a vaccination, the state's Vaccine Scheduling System, vaccination providers and how the vaccines work.

This guide, originally published Jan. 16, was updated on on Sept. 29 with new information on booster shots. 

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