NJ’s most-asked questions about the COVID vaccine
More than a million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in New Jersey.
During his update on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that 813,216 initial doses and 224,237 second shots have been administered.
He said the vaccination program, which began in the Garden State on Dec. 15, is gaining momentum.
“Even with the continued scarcity in supply and the rescheduling caused by snowstorms, we have put 500,000 vaccine doses in arms in just a little over two weeks,” he said. "While this is a significant milestone we have a good ways to go to reach our ultimate goal of 4.7 million adults by the beginning of summer.”
Murphy pointed out as vaccinations increase, COVID metrics continue to trend downward. Hospitalizations are at 2,814, the rate of transmission is down to 0.85 (the goal is 1.0 or less) and the positivity rate is trending lower at 8.5%.
“All of this means that our healthcare system remains in a very strong position and capable of treating those currently in its care. And if these trends continue, we can again look to additional steps to further reopen our economy," he said.
In the meantime New Jerseyans continue to have questions about the vaccines.
According to state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, the state vaccine call center at 855-568-0545, handled more than 16,000 calls over the weekend.
She said one frequent question is whether there is a charge for getting a vaccine— there isn't.
She also shared several other commonly asked questions and answers to those questions.
Q Why isn’t there more vaccine available?
A It takes time to produce vaccines, and the production capacity of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is increasing slowly.
She noted the J and J vaccine could get approved by the end of the month, and shipments to New Jersey for the one-shot vaccine could arrive by the second week in March.
Can the COVID vaccine give you COVID-19?
The vaccines cannot cause infection with COVID-19.
Will the vaccines work against the variants we are hearing about?
In most cases, yes, they have been found to be good at stopping severe illness, hospitalization and death. Oxford University over the weekend said early data from a small study suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not authorized in the United States, offers only minimal protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant.
Should pregnant women get vaccinated?
The CDC and its advisory committee on immunization practices recommends that women talk to their healthcare provider about whether they should get vaccinated. Persichilli said different factors should be considered including the amount of community spread, a patient’s individual risk and the potential risk of the fetus of getting the virus. She also pointed out experts believe the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk but these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant women.
Are the different vaccine brands interchangeable?
The COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products. Both doses of the series should be completed with the same brand.
If I get vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask?
Yes, you will still need to wear a mask and follow all safe-guarding methods until enough individuals are vaccinated to produce community protection. While the vaccine prevents serious illness, it is not yet known if it will stop the virus from being transmitted.
When will more visitation be allowed at long-term care facilitates?
We hope as more people get vaccinated, the spread of the virus in the community will lessen. In time, safe visitation will be restored.
The governor noted that as more and more people get vaccinated, it’s going to make a huge difference.
“I don’t know that it’s a Monday-to-Tuesday light switch sort of difference but it is a major, positive contributing factor to our ability to get back on our feet and get back to some sense of normalcy," he said.
Murphy said state officials have been told that delivery of vaccine supplies will be increased over the next three weeks, although he did not give a specific breakdown on the amount of vaccine we are expecting.
He also said as more vaccine becomes available, it will mean educators and other essential workers will become eligible to get vaccinated. The state teachers union have been calling on public health officials to place educators among those at the front of the line.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.