NJ launches COVID booster shot campaign — on the honor system
Now that the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have given their approval for Pfizer booster shots, the New Jersey booster shot program has been launched.
So far there are no reports of delays to get the shot, and many Garden State residents in all sorts of priority groupings have been given the booster green light.
During the latest COVID update on Monday, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said more than a thousand dispensing locations across New Jersey are standing by to give boosters to eligible residents who had their second Pfizer shot at least six months ago.
Who is eligible now for a booster shot?
Persichilli said about 1.2 million Garden State residents can get a Pfizer COVID booster, and those who should get the shot include:
• Those age 65 and older and residents in Long Term Care settings
• People age 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions
She then said the following individuals may receive a booster:
• People age 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions, based on their individual benefits and risks
Underlying medical conditions include:
• Chronic kidney disease
• Chronic lung disease
• Dementia or other neurological conditions
• Diabetes, type 1 & 2
• Down Syndrome
• Heart Conditions
• HIV infection
• Immuno-compromised conditions
• Liver Disease
• Sickle Cell disease
• Smoking, current or former
• Stem cell transplants
• Substance use disorders
She noted this list does not include all potential conditions that could make an individual more likely to get severely ill from COVID, and those with questions should consult with their doctor to determine if the benefits of getting a booster outweigh the risks.
The Commissioner said a fourth category has also been added of those who can receive a booster shot — people age 18 to 64 who are at increased risk of COVID exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional settings:
• Homeless shelters
• Group homes
• People who work with vulnerable populations
• Health care workers
• Grocery store workers
• Public transportation employees
So far 106,542 people in New Jersey have either gotten a booster or a third Pfizer shot (approved last month) because they are immuno-compromised.
“Individuals are not required by vaccination providers to provide proof of a medical condition or a note from a medical provider to receive a booster dose," Persichilli said.
Gov. Phil Murphy said no proof of anything is required to get a booster.
“We de-bureaucratized this process, so we never asked you to prove that you had X or you worked in Y, or give us your driver’s license or any of that," he said. “Our view was the more shots in arms, assuming you’re eligible and you’re doing the right thing, the faster we get that done, the safer we’ll be as a state.”
Persichilli said while many dispensing locations have walk-in hours you can make a booster shot appointment online by visiting covid19.nj.gov/finder or by calling 1-855-568-0545.
She added for those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines “the CDC announced that it is evaluating the available data with urgency, to make the additional recommendations as soon as possible.”