Union County Vaccine Guide: What You Need to Know (UPDATED)
UNION COUNTY, NJ – 4.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were given and 1.6 million people were fully vaccinated on Thursday in New Jersey, according to the state health department.
The doses will be administered nationwide through hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, state-run clinics and state “mega-sites,” according to the New Jersey COVID-19 dashboard.
The state has set a goal of getting 70% of New Jersey’s approved adults – 4.7 million people – vaccinated by early summer. Here are answers to some key questions about the process.
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MORE: See which vaccination centers in New Jersey are making appointments
Who is Eligible? COVID-19 vaccines are available in New Jersey according to guidelines from the state Department of Health to the following people:
- People aged 65 and over
- People aged 16 to 64 with certain medical conditions
- Child carers in licensed and registered environments
- Educators and staff, pre-K to 12
- Elderly care and support staff
- Electoral staff
- First responder
- Health care workers
- Hotel workers
- People affected by homelessness and people living in emergency shelters
- Judicial system workers
- Long-term care and high-risk gathering of residents and employees of care facilities
- Medical supply chain workers
- Members of tribal communities
- Agricultural workers with a migration background
- Post and shipping workers
- Public Security Personnel
- Social workers and support staff
- Transport workers
- Warehouse and logistics workers
Upcoming Eligibility Changes
Starting Monday April 5, people 55 and over, additional key frontline workers, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities aged 16 and over will be able to book appointments, according to the state health ministry.
For more information on eligible categories, please visit the State Department of Health website here.
MORE: Twitter bots can help you find COVID vaccine shots in Union County & NJ
How do I plan recordings? Both Union County and the State Health Department have websites that you can use to schedule admissions. However, members of the public are encouraged to log on to the websites of private care providers as well.
- Pre-registration for the vaccine distributed in the state of New Jersey at covidvaccine.nj.gov.
- Schedule a vaccine with the County Union at ucnjvaccine.org when appointments are available.
- Atlantic Health System offers the vaccine in a number of locations. Click here to register.
- Check availability at CVS locations across New Jersey here.
- Check availability at Rite Aid locations across New Jersey here.
- ShopRites in Elizabeth and Clark offer the vaccine, among other things. Check availability and log in ataccines.shoprite.com.
Working with volunteers, Planet Princeton has crowd-sourced a version of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine spreadsheet that shows which locations are admitting patients and which locations are scheduled for appointments. It contains links to websites and contact information for individual websites, and advice on whether to call them.
Click here to see New Jersey Vaccination Sites Listed by the State Department of Health. There are 21 locations listed in Union County. However, people are not limited to picking locations in their country of residence where the vaccination location does not state otherwise.
How can I get help over the phone? You can access the state hotline at 855-568-0545 daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The call center, which speaks both English and Spanish, can handle over 240 different languages, according to state health authorities.
The state has also set up a hotline specifically for seniors. People aged 65 and over can call a special senior hotline at 856-249-7007 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for assistance with vaccination planning. The state health ministry says that special appointment slots are reserved for people aged 65 and over. The availability and scheduling of appointments varies depending on the location.
The Union County government has set up a vaccine hotline tailored to:
- Seniors over 65 years of age.
- Individuals aged 18 to 64 with qualified medical conditions who may not have internet access.
- Residents who need help in Spanish.
- Residents who may need assistance with transportation to and from vaccination sites.
The district hotline is 908-613-7VAX (7829). The opening times are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
What is the best vaccine? Due to the limited supply, officials recommend taking the first vaccine you can get. “All vaccines provide protection, and you should take the vaccine that is available where you are registered,” said Ellen Shelley, the Westfield Regional Health Department coordinator for outreach, during a forum on COVID- 19 vaccine instead of Thursday.
What about scheduling multiple appointments? Dr. Tina Sabharwal, medical director of the Atlantic Health Urgent Care Center in Clark, said that people can register as many places for the vaccine as they want, but must be careful of the appointments they make. “If you want to register on multiple websites, just keep track of all the appointments you have made and cancel them accordingly,” said Sabharwal.
Can the vaccine give you COVID-19? No. The vaccines cannot cause infection with COVID-19, said State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. In fact, the two vaccines given in New Jersey can’t infect you at all, Persichilli said. The current vaccines do not contain live virus or attenuated virus, she said.
What side effects are to be expected? According to the CDC, side effects can include fever, chills, fatigue, and headache, as well as pain and swelling in the arm where you were shot. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus, says the CDC.
Will the vaccines work against the new variants? For the most part, yes, they have been found to be very good at stopping serious illness, hospitalizations, and death, Persichilli said. However, Oxford University recently said that early data from a small study suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet approved in the US, offers minimal protection against the mild disease caused by the South African variant, she said. This vaccine maker’s lead researcher said he expected a modified vaccine for the South African variant by the fall, Persichilli said.
How effective is the vaccine? The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 disease in people with no evidence of previous infection, according to the CDC, which cites the results of clinical studies. Clinical studies also show that the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 disease in people who received two doses and had no evidence of previous infection, so the CDC.
According to the CDC, in clinical studies (efficacy), the Johnson & Johnson single vaccine was shown to be 66.3% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 disease in people who had no evidence of previous infection two weeks after receiving the vaccine templates. According to the CDC, people had the greatest protection 2 weeks after vaccination.
Do I need to maintain masking and social distancing when I have the vaccine? Yes. “Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you can’t get it. It’s not 100%, “said Dr. Jeanine Bulan, Medical Director at Atlantic Medical Group in Westfield. “No vaccine is 100%. So we still have to take precautions to protect ourselves and stop the virus from spreading. “