Vaccination FAQs

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The one thing we have never had any shortage of during the covid-19 pandemic is confusion.  This FAQ page is here to help.  This is not an exhaustive list, but rather is designed to attempt to answer the most common questions.  There have been challenges with the state scheduling system, but many bugs have already been worked out and the system is being regularly refined as issues arise.   The main challenge as of mid-February 2021, is a very limited supply of vaccine doses. These doses are supplied by the federal government to the state government and by state government to the counties.  Cape May County does not control the distribution of the vaccine and cannot go directly to the pharmaceutical companies to purchase doses.   Our only source of vaccine doses is what is allotted to us by the state.  We are hopeful, and there are indications, that vaccine supply will begin to increase steadily as we head through March and into the Spring.

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines are being distributed in a phased rollout according to priority groups as established by the New Jersey Department of Health. Currently, vaccinations are taking place for individuals who qualify under Phase 1A and Phase 1B, including all healthcare and frontline personnel as well as residents and staff of long-term care facilities, sworn law enforcement, fire professionals, other first responders, essential workers, individuals 65 and older, and adults ages 16-64 with medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus.

After these qualifying individuals have been served, the vaccine will be available more broadly to the general population.

For more information on New Jersey's vaccine distribution phases and groupings, please visit the official NJ State page on who is eligible

Decisions about priority groups and how the doses will be spread across the state may change based on changes in vaccine supply and public demand. The goal of the NJ Department of Health is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population in the state — 4.7 million adults — by June 2021.

How can I schedule my COVID-19 vaccination?

Everyone should first register for a vaccine on the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System, or you may call the New Jersey call center 855-568-0545. The call center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

What happens after I register in the state system?

After you register, you will receive an e-mail letting you know your registration has been accepted.  If you are eligible to obtain the vaccine according the state’s phased approach, you will receive an email informing you that you are eligible.   This is NOT the email that lets you schedule your appointment.  When an appointment becomes available for you, you will receive a second email indicating that you can now schedule your appointment.  This email will contain a link that should allow you to schedule an appointment.

NOTE: If no appointments are available at that time, continue to check that e-mail link.  Appointments may become available throughout the week as a more vaccine becomes available

It is possible that you may not yet qualify under the current phase as determined by the state.  There is more information on this topic below.

What if I need make a change to my registration on the NJVSS?

Online help at covid19.nj.gov/vaccinehelp for the following issues

  • Confirming registration
  • Changing registration information
  • Assigned to incorrect phase
  • Another issue

Where can I go to get the COVID-19 vaccine in other places in New Jersey?

As the vaccine becomes available more broadly, there will be many locations throughout the state for vaccination, including state and county mega-sites, smaller vaccine centers including several of our Medical Group practice sites and retail pharmacies.

Six mega-sites throughout New Jersey are now open to serve as vaccination hubs:

  • Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center https://covidreg.atlanticare.org/Login
  • Bergen County: Racetrack at Meadowlands, East Rutherford
  • Burlington County: Moorestown Mall 
  • Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey, Sewell
  • Middlesex County: New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison 
  • Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare 

The sites will distribute vaccines according to the State’s designated priority groups. Registration for appointments is required at this time.  You can find further information on these sites here: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-eligible-recipients 

Where can I go to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Cape May County?

Once you are registered through  https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/, are deemed eligible by the state and  receive an email to schedule your appointment, you can receive your vaccine at any of the available locations, including the Avalon Community Hall located at 3001 Avalon Ave. Avalon New Jersey 08202. No walk-ins are allowed.   Each appointment is tied to a dose of vaccine so the staff cannot allow walk-ins without appointments.

Also, ShopRite supermarkets in Marmora: 4 W. Roosevelt Boulevard, Marmora and ShopRite of Rio Grande: 1700 Route 47 South, Rio Grande https://vaccines.shoprite.com/

CVS- 1501 Bayshore Rd. Villas, NJ 08251

https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine?icid=cvs-home-hero1-banner-1-link2-coronavirus-vaccine

As noted, there is a state-run Mega-Site at the Atlantic City Convention Center.  For information on registering and seeking the vaccine there, go to this site https://www.atlanticare.org/patients-and-visitors/coronavirus-safety-and-information/covid-vaccination-distribution-information 

Other private locations including retail and pharmacies, intend to offer vaccinations at their locations in the future.  This is independent of the State and County system, and they utilize their own appointment system.   You can check with your providers about this possibility. 

Should I expect to get my second follow-up shot at the same location where I received my first shot?  

Yes, you will get information about the scheduling of your second shot when you go for your first shot.   If you registered through the state system, you will automatically receive an appointment via e-mail within 7 days of your first vaccination.   Otherwise, a date will be scheduled for you before you leave the clinic.

After I get the COVID-19 vaccine, will I still have to wear a mask and practice social distancing?

It is recommended that you do so.  The vaccine helps you to create antibodies to fight off COVID-19 if you catch it.  There is limited scientific information about the ability of vaccinated persons to catch and spread covid, so everyone should continue to wear masks and social distance even after getting the vaccine until we reach a point where most people have been vaccinated and the healthcare experts provide additional guidance.

If I can’t get the COVID-19 vaccine yet, what should I do in the meantime?

Keep doing what you can to minimize your exposure to the virus. Avoid large gatherings of people. When in the company of others, try and maintain six feet of distance between you to prevent transmission. Until the vaccine is widely available, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds or longer and avoid touching your face. 

If I experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, what should I do?

If you have a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

Report vaccine side effects to FDA/CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The VAERS toll-free number is 1-800-822-7967. Or, report online to https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html

Can I speak with someone for additional questions?  

Yes, the Cape May County Department of Health has established a hotline where additional questions can be asked.  The hotline number is 609-463-6581.

What COVID-19 vaccines are available now?

Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine have been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Distribution of both has already begun in New Jersey and around the country.

Who gets the COVID-19 vaccine first? 

In New Jersey, the priority order in which the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed aims to be fair, ethical, equitable and timely. They are being distributed in a phased rollout to people who live, work, and are educated in New Jersey. The NJDOH is providing guidance to healthcare organizations to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive the vaccines first. Because initial supplies are limited, the first doses are being given to healthcare personnel and long-term care residents. Then the vaccine will be offered to other groups such as essential workers, those over 65, and people with co-morbidities and risk factors before it is available more broadly to the general population.

 What you should mention to your Vaccination Provider before you get the vaccine.

If you have concerns regarding the following, you should talk to your healthcare provider and disclose to the vaccine clinic staff if you

  • have any allergies
  • have a fever
  • have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
  • are immunocompromised or are on a medicine that affects your immune system
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding
  • have received the COVID-19 vaccine by another manufacturer.

If you believe you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccines, you should not get the vaccines and must consult with your healthcare provider.

How safe are the COVID-19 vaccines?

The FDA is responsible for making sure that, just like any other medications, any FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and they work. Clinical trials testing vaccines are conducted according to rigorous safety standards. When vaccines receive approval or authorization, you can rest assured that they have been deemed safe for distribution. Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines were tested in clinical trials on tens of thousands of people. 

Note that the vaccines have not been authorized for use on all populations; the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for use on individuals 16 years and older, and the Moderna vaccine for individuals 18 years and older. Effects on pregnant or breastfeeding women are still not known.

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?

Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines have been shown in phase 3 clinical trials to be more than 94 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in study participants.

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines work by training your body to produce antibodies that can protect you from the virus. Unlike many other vaccines that use a weak or inactive version of the virus to help your body recognize it, these vaccines use a modified bit of genetic code in messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) that teaches your cells how to develop a spike protein on the outside of them just like the one on the virus. Your body will identify the spike protein and develop an immune response, creating antibodies that can protect you from the real virus.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. The actual virus is not part of the ingredients, so you cannot be infected by them.

What are the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

The vaccines may have localized side effects at the injection site, as well as mild symptoms of short-term discomfort. In rare cases, allergic reactions may occur. For details on the specific vaccines’ ingredients and possible side effects, visit:

2/16/2021