Millions of New Jerseyans who’ve gotten the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine can now get a booster shot, Gov. Phil Murphy said. And they can mix and match.
Those who got the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine through April, and those who got their single Johnson & Johnson shot by August, are now eligible to receive a booster. Eligibility is limited to seniors and adults under 65 years of age with high-risk medical conditions, or who work in front-line industries such as health care, utilities, transit, grocery stores and public safety.
Murphy estimated there are upwards of 1,700 locations across New Jersey where an adult can get the booster shot, and which can be found on the state-run covid19.nj.gov/vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both greenlit all three drugmakers’ plans this month to roll out booster shots, following data that suggests their effectiveness in protecting patients against COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Murphy assured that “we have the supply needed to meet the demand for boosters.”
“If you are in your window of eligibility for your booster shot, please go and get it,” the governor said. “The weather is turning colder, which means more of us will be moving our social activities back inside. Get the added protection that a booster can provide.”
On top of the booster, Murphy said state health officials are looking at how to distribute the vaccine to children ages 5 to 11. Currently, the youngest that someone can get the shot is the age of 12 through Pfizer’s vaccine.
“Getting our kids eligible for vaccination against COVID will be an absolute game-changer not just for keeping our schools safe but for further protecting all families and communities,” Murphy added.
More than 6 million people have been fully vaccinated since the first jab was given to a University Hospital nurse in mid-December. A total of 12.3 million doses have been administered, of which 4% were for the 12 to 15 age group, and 3% were young adults 16 and 17 years of age.
Roughly 760,000 people in New Jersey are between the ages of 5 and 11 and could get the vaccine. The state has pre-ordered 205,000 pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine, according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
The White House’s plans call for children to get one-third the Pfizer vaccine dosage given to adults. They would be stored in 10-dose vials in cartons of 10 each, which could be kept in standard refrigeration for up to 10 weeks, and ultra-cold storage for up to six months. Medical personnel would need to use smaller needles for children, and that supply would also need to be coordinated by the federal government.
Persichilli said the Pfizer doses for children would be packaged with special lettering and a bright orange cap so that they can be easily discerned from doses meant to adults.
One of the mega-sites would offer the vaccine to children, Persichilli said, while all 21 counties would have an official site.
On top of that, children would be able to get the shot at one of 65 primary care centers, 35 hospitals, 40 independent and eight chain pharmacies, 27 federally-qualified health centers, seven local and county health sites, and six urgent care sites.
The hope is that many school nurses and clinics would participate “for those kids used to get their immunizations at the schools.”
Larger sites would have sectioned off areas for children, staffed by pediatricians and primary care physicians, “so that children do not have to be afraid to get their immunizations in a large area.”