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A step-by-step guide to getting your Covid-19 Vaccine

By Olivia Bowman 
Correspondent 

With the nation largely working towards becoming vaccinated, it can be difficult to compare and find the option that is best suited for your age, location and schedule. 

Many may feel overwhelmed in their journey to inoculation. Below is a step-by-step guide to finding the right vaccine option for you based on your availability, geographical location and preferences. 

So, what vaccines are currently available? 

There are three vaccines currently granted for emergency use by the FDA: Pfizer, which is available for individuals ages 16 and up, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson which are both available for ages 18 and up. 

The following is a breakdown of the effectiveness based on clinical trials.

Pfizer and Moderna: These vaccines come in two doses and as of a study completed on March 13, are 90% effective, according to STAT health news. These vaccines work using mRNA technology which delivers genetic code to your cells, activating your immune system to build Covid-19 antibodies. 

Johnson and Johnson: This vaccine comes in one dose and was released more recently. It gained emergency approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 12. According to the CDC, this vaccine has a 66.3% efficacy rate based on laboratory trials. This vaccine is different from Pfizer and Moderna in the use of adenovirus to direct your cells to create the SARS-2 spike protein to activate your immune system and create an immune response in your body, according to the STAT article. 

Side effects of the vaccines commonly include headache, fever, chills & aches and nausea/vomiting. 

New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS)

One of the first steps to getting registered for the vaccine can be to register yourself in the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System. This allows you to put in your personal information such as name and phone number as well as proof of your vaccine phase, occupation, or eligibility. 

There you can check the website frequently for available vaccine locations in your area. 

You may find with this system that it states that there are available vaccines, but once you click on the location there are not any available. This is normally because the vaccine spots fill up quickly. 

Keep checking back as often as possible and try refreshing the page each time. Often, time slots are refreshed at midnight. 

Here is a step by step guide to registering with the NJVSS system:

  1. Go to https://covidvaccine.nj.gov and click the blue “Get Started” Button.
  2. You will be redirected to a page where you can submit your personal information.  
    1. If you have health insurance fill out your information. If you do not have health insurance you will still be able to register.
  3. Next you will be asked to fill out information about your work and medical conditions. The completion bar at the top should read 40% done. 
  4. At 60% done you will be asked to fill in more personal health questions. 
  5. Finally, you will be asked to verify all of your information and will be given more information about the vaccine system via email. 
  6. TO CHECK FOR AVAILABLE VACCINES: login to your NJVSS account with your saved username and password. You will be directed to a page with a map. Enter your zip code and it will show the available vaccine sites in your area. You can also choose to search the whole state if you are willing to drive. 
  7. Click on an available vaccine site. (This might be the step where you click on the site and it states that vaccines are unavailable at this site. This just means that someone else took the vaccine spot first.) If there is a vaccine available click to register for that site. If not, keep refreshing the page and try coming back to the website in 10 minutes. 
  8. You can also call The Vaccine Call Center at 1-855-568-0545 if you would like assistance in registering for the NJVSS.   

NJ Vaccine Megasites:

After registering with NJVSS, it is suggested that you also register under each megasite in New Jersey. Additionally, if you give the sites your email address, they may also email or text you when there are available vaccines. The megasites and their email addresses are listed below. 

Atlantic County Megasite: Atlantic City Convention Center 1 Convention Boulevard Atlantic City; vaccination.atlanticare.org

Bergen County Megasite: Racetrack at Meadowlands 1 Racetrack Drive East, Rutherford; hackensackmeridianhealth.org/covid19/meadowlands

Burlington County Megasite: Moorestown Mall (Lord & Taylor), 400 & 401 NJ-38, Moorestown; virtua.org/vaccine

Gloucester County Megasite: Rowan College of South Jersey, 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell; Pre-register at covidvaccine.nj.gov/

Middlesex County Megasite: NJ Convention & Expo Center, 97 Sunfield Ave, Edison; rwjbh.org/covid19vaccine

Morris County Megasite: Rockaway Townsquare Mall, 301 Mount Hope Avenue, Rockaway; morriscountynj.gov/vaccination

Additionally, here is a link to every vaccine site in all of New Jersey including local pharmacies and grocery stores. They each have contact information listed including email, phone numbers and direct contact names. 

Disparities in NJ vaccination

It is important to be aware of the racial, age and socioeconomic disparities between individuals in our state and around the country. 

According to a report by NJ.com, in each New Jersey county, Black residents are 41% less likely to receive the vaccine compared to that county’s white residents. For Hispanic and Latinx residents, that number is 45% lower. When NJ.com interviewed Samantha Artiga of the Kaiser Family Foundation, she said that these disparities are due to lack of resources such as inability to access the internet, transportation and flexibility of a work schedule to be able to receive that vaccine. 

Governor Murphy plans to advocate for vaccinations to be distributed equally across the state to people of color (Envato Elements).

Additionally, disadvantaged populations have seen more “serious adverse outcomes” from the vaccine, according to NorthJersey.com. This can be because of crowded living situations and workplace conditions. 

Seniors are also struggling to get the vaccine in New Jersey due to their inability to access and navigate the state’s online systems, according to NorthJersey.com. 

Governor Phil Murphy has set up the Department of Health’s Vulnerable Populations Plan aiming to get vaccines to more communities of color, according to njspotlight.com. The details of this program are still being worked on and released. 

Where can you go from here? 

In order to get your vaccine, be sure to keep up with the information on the state’s Covid-19 website about your phase eligibility, registering with the state system and megasites. Checking your email on a regular basis will keep you most up to date on your vaccination status. 

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