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NJ’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout : What You Need to Know

Saturday, January 09, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine being given to an elderly woman.The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is underway, but not without delays and quite a bit of confusion over when and how people can get inoculated. The urgency to get people vaccinated is great, as the U.S. continues to break records on daily COVID-19 deaths, and a new, more contagious variant has emerged. (The new variant does not appear to be any deadlier or cause more severe symptoms than the original virus.) NewBridge Services has pulled together the latest information to help you understand the basics on vaccination and New Jersey’s plan to stop the coronavirus onslaught.

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?

The vaccines trigger an individual’s immune system, allowing a person to develop immunity to the virus without getting the illness. The two vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Both are messenger RNA vaccines that, when injected into the muscle, trigger an immune response, creating antibodies that protect the body if exposed to the virus. The vaccines are given as a series of two shots several weeks apart (the second Pfizer vaccine is administered 21 days later, while the follow-up Moderna injection is given 28 days after the first). Three other vaccines are in Phase 3, large-scale clinical trials in the U.S.

It’s important to understand the vaccines cannot give you the disease and don’t alter your DNA. Click here to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more details about how the vaccines work.

Why get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine can prevent you from getting infected by the virus. While plenty of people who become infected with the coronavirus experience no symptoms, they can still infect others who may not fare as well. The disease has killed 369,000 U.S. residents, including nearly 20,000 in New Jersey as of Jan. 9. Plenty of other people suffer serious symptoms for several weeks, and some have lingering ailments months later.

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?

The two vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are more than 90% effective based on findings from large clinical trials.

How do we know they are safe?

Tens of thousands of people received the vaccines as part of clinical trials. Regulatory agencies and independent scientific experts have deemed the vaccines safe. The approved COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain the virus and cannot give you the disease. They may cause temporary unpleasant side effects, such as fever, fatigue, and/or pain at the injection site. Those are normal, signs that the body is building protection against the virus. Click here for more information.

What is New Jersey’s rollout plan for the vaccine?

New Jersey is rolling out vaccines in phases. Distribution began on Dec. 15 to people working in health care settings, as well as long-term care residents and staff. They are in Phase 1A. This week, police and firefighters, included in Phase 1B, began receiving vaccines. Other essential workers, including teachers, daycare workers, public transit employees and news media personnel, and seniors age 75 and up are next in line. A date had not been set as of Jan. 9. Click here for the state’s detailed plan.

Phase 1C, as yet unscheduled, will follow. It covers people between the ages of 16 and 64 with high-risk conditions, and other adults aged 65 to 75. It also includes people living or working at colleges and universities, migrant workers, and tribal populations.

The rest of us must wait for Phase 2. New Jersey has set up a portal for New Jersey residents ages 16 and up to preregister. Note that COVID-19 vaccines have not been approved for children under age 16 because children were not part of the clinical trials.

The state has set up major vaccination hubs in six counties to accelerate vaccine distribution. The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population within six months.

Click the link to access the New Jersey COVID-19 information hub for updates. The latest CDC information is available here.

Please stay safe. Wear a mask and keep at least six feet apart from people other than those you live with. Wash your hands regularly, especially after you’ve been in public places.

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