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If booster shots are needed for the COVID vaccine, how will you get one in New Jersey?


New Jersey will be ready to deliver COVID-19 recall shots should they become necessary, Gov. Phil murphy said Monday during his last coronavirus briefing.

Murphy said that while the mega-sites are no longer working, there are currently 1,479 sites giving the Pfizer, Modera and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and “we can light a dime” to be ready to deliver booster injections.

“I am very confident that we will have the infrastructure in place and that we are making deliberate decisions” to prepare, the governor said of the possibility that booster injections will be needed as early as the fall.

The state is awaiting guidance from the federal government regarding booster injections, State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said and “is working aggressively” to try to see if there is a way to distribute the vaccine to doctors’ offices and other providers. But added that the state can “easily set up larger sites” if necessary.

“We are ready to do it,” said Persichilli. “The planning started months ago. “

But Murphy and Persichilli did not explain how appointments would be made for future booster shots or if there was a plan in place to avoid the problems that arose when doses of the COVID vaccine became available for the first time and the demand for the injections far exceeded the supply.

Persichilli noted that the state would await advice from the federal government, which is meeting with Pfizer on the need for boosters on Monday.

The issue of booster shots was at the forefront last week when Pfizer said the effectiveness of its vaccine may start to decline after six months and people may need a booster. He cited data from Israel which showed that the vaccine offers only 64% in preventing Delta variant infections, while it is still 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations and severe symptoms.

In response, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint statement saying Americans who have been fully immunized do not need a booster just yet.

On Sunday, Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases highlighted the message from the federal government that booster shots are currently unnecessary.

“Given the data and information we have, we don’t need to give people a third chance” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper, referring to the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Stephanie Silvera, epidemiologist and professor of public health at Montclair State University, said the virus would continue to mutate and likely become more transmissible because there are still many unvaccinated “susceptible hosts”.

“As a result, current vaccines may prove to be less effective over time,” she said, citing data from Israel. “While at this time, mRNA vaccines still do a good job of preventing serious illness and death, the vaccine’s efficacy is reduced against the Delta variant, and this is certainly a cause for concern.”

RWJBarnabus Health, which operated the mega-site in Middlesex County, said it was using its past experience as a roadmap for managing future appointments.

“Given the fluid nature of the virus, RWJBarnabas Health continues to monitor the work of state and federal agencies regarding the potential need for booster vaccinations,” a spokesperson said, noting that he would use his past practices for the efforts. subsequent vaccination.

Hackensack Meridian Health, which manages the Meadowlands mega-site, said it would be prepared if booster shots became necessary.

“We are currently evaluating the boosters and will be ready for doses if and when science shows they are needed, and they receive the necessary regulatory approvals,” a spokesperson said.

CVS said it was “monitoring the CDC for future directions regarding booster injections,” but it would not indicate whether it would contact vaccine customers with appointments if boosters were recommended or if people should. find a time slot. He also wouldn’t comment on how he would handle vaccinations in nursing homes.

Walgreens said it was “prepared to follow any subsequent guidance from the FDA or CDC on additional doses or booster shots for any of the eligible populations allowed to receive COVID-19 vaccines,” but it didn’t ‘shared no specific plans on how this might help customers sign up.

Silvera said she would like to see the booster shots mostly distributed in clinics, doctor’s offices and pharmacies, although not all places have the ultra-cold storage temperatures required for vaccines.

“There is evidence from the Kaiser Foundation showing that people would prefer to receive the vaccine from their doctors or other healthcare professionals they know and in environments they are comfortable with,” he said. she declared. “That said, as we respond to the need to distribute possible third doses, we must continue to reach out to those who have been hesitant and resistant to the vaccine to receive their first dose.”

“For those who are worried about needing a booster, the best way to avoid this is to encourage anyone you know who has not yet been vaccinated to get the vaccine and, in the meantime, should continue. to wear a mask, especially when indoors with other unvaccinated people, ”Silvera said.

NJ Advance Media Editor Brent Johnson contributed to this report.

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Karin Price Mueller can be contacted at [email protected].

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