Union County Vaccine Guide: What You Need to Know (UPDATED)
UNION COUNTY, NJ – As of Thursday, 4.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in New Jersey and 1.6 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health.
Doses are being distributed nationwide through hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, government clinics and state “mega-sites,” according to the New Jersey COVID-19 dashboard.
The state has set a goal of vaccinating 70% of New Jersey eligible adults – 4.7 million people – by early summer. Here are answers to some key questions about the process.
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MORE: See which vaccination sites in New Jersey make an appointment
Who is eligible? COVID-19 vaccines are available in New Jersey for the following individuals, as directed by the state Department of Health:
- People aged 65+
- People aged 16-64 with certain medical conditions
- Childcare workers on leave and registered arrangements
- Teachers and staff, pre-K to 12
- Eldercare and support workers
- Election staff
- First correspondents
- Healthcare workers
- Hospitality of employees
- People experiencing homelessness and those living in shelters
- Employees of the judiciary
- Residents and long-term care and high-risk staff assemble care facilities
- Medical supply chain employees
- Members of tribal communities
- Migrant farmers
- Employees of postal and shipping services
- Public safety workers
- Social workers and support staff
- Transport workers
- Warehousing and logistics workers
Upcoming eligibility changes
From Monday 5 April, people aged 55 and over, in addition to key first-line workers and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities aged 16 and over, will be eligible to make an appointment, according to the state health ministry.
Learn more about the appropriate categories on the Ministry of Health website here.
MORE: Twitter Bots can help you find COVID vaccines in Union County & NJ
How do I schedule downloads? Both Union County and the state Department of Health offer sites where you can schedule downloads, but members of the public are also encouraged to try subscribing to private care providers’ sites.
- Pre-registered for the vaccine to be distributed through the state of New Jersey at covidvaccine.nj.gov.
- Schedule a vaccination with Union County at ucnjvaccine.org as appointments become available.
- The Atlantic Health System offers the vaccine in various locations. Click here to register.
- Check availability at CVS locations throughout New Jersey here.
- Check availability at Rite Aid locations throughout New Jersey here.
- ShopRites at Elizabeth and Clark are among those offering the vaccine. Check availability and sign up at vaccines.shoprite.com.
In collaboration with volunteers, Planet Princeton has created a state-of-the-art version of the COVID-19 vaccine spreadsheet that shows which sites accept patients and which sites schedule appointments. Includes site links and contact information for individual sites, as well as tips on whether to invite them.
Click here for New Jersey vaccine sites listed by the state Department of Health. There are 21 sites in Union County. People, however, are not limited to collecting sites within their county where the vaccine site does not indicate otherwise.
How can I get help over the phone? You can access the state telephone line at 855-568-0545 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily. The call center – staffed with both English and Spanish speakers – is capable of handling more than 240 different languages, state health officials said.
The state has also set up a hotline specifically for the elderly. People aged 65 and over can call a dedicated hotline at 856-249-7007 from 8am. until 8 p.m. to support vaccination scheduling. The state Department of Health says exclusive appointments are for people 65 and older. Availability and appointment scheduling varies by location.
The Union County Government has set up an open vaccine line tailored to help the following people:
- Elderly over 65 years.
- Those aged 18-64 with appropriate medical conditions who may not have access to the Internet.
- Residents who need help with Spanish.
- Residents who may need assistance with transportation to and from vaccination sites.
The telephone line of the prefecture is 908-613-7VAX (7829) and the opening hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
What is the best vaccine to take? Due to limited supply, officials recommend getting the first vaccine you can get. “All vaccines offer protection and you should get what is available on the site you are registered with,” said Ellen Shelley, Vulnerable Population Approach Coordinator at the Westfield Regional Department of Health, during a COVID-19 forum in vaccination took place on Thursday.
What about scheduling multiple appointments? Dr Tina Sabharwal, medical director at the Atlantic Emergency Health Center in Clark, said people could sign up for as many places as they wanted for the vaccine, but keep track of their appointments. “If you are going to subscribe to multiple sites, just keep track of any appointments you have made and cancel properly,” said Sabharwal.
Can the vaccine give you COVID-19? No. Vaccines cannot cause infection with COVID-19, said State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. In fact, the two vaccines given in New Jersey can not infect you at all, Persichilli said. The current vaccines do not contain live virus or attenuated virus, he said.
What side effects should be expected? Side effects can include pain and swelling in the arm where you get the shot, in addition to fever, chills and headaches, according to the CDC. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus, says the CDC.
Will the vaccines work against the new variants? In most cases, yes, they have been found to be very good at stopping serious illness, hospitalization and death, Persichilli said. However, the University of Oxford recently said that early data from a small study showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been approved in the United States, offers minimal protection against the mild disease caused by the South African variant, he said. The lead researcher for this vaccine manufacturer said they expect to have a modified vaccine to treat the South African variant by the autumn, Persichilli said.
How effective is the vaccine? The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 disease in people without evidence of previous infection, according to the CDC, which reports clinical trial results. Evidence from clinical trials also shows that the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 disease in people who received two doses that had no previous evidence of infection, the CDC said.
The CDC reports that the Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine was found to be 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) in preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 disease in people who had no evidence of previous infection two weeks after receiving the vaccine. Individuals had the highest protection 2 weeks after vaccination, according to the CDC.
Should I continue to hide and socialize if I have the vaccine? Yes. “Getting the vaccine does not mean you can’t get it. It is not 100% “, said Dr. Jeanine Bulan, Director of Medicine at Atlantic Medical Group in Westfield. “No vaccine is 100%. Therefore, we must take precautions to protect ourselves and stop the spread of the virus. “