As everyone hopes to return to a somewhat normal life where we can live in peace without the fear of getting sick or spreading illnesses, more and more people have been getting vaccinated.
It’s understandable to hesitate if you’re unsure of side effects or worried about potential long-term effects, but it’s also important to make sure you do your own reading and stray from believing rumors or theories. The CDC provides fact sheets for each vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen – as well as information regarding clinical trials and what side effects are common. Make an informed decision and do what you think is best.
If you are looking to get the vaccine, here are some updates in New Jersey’s eligibility and ways you can make an appointment!
Who is eligible?
The list of eligible individuals in New Jersey grows constantly, with several conditions and professions listed on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine site. Some conditions are so common, most people don’t even realize they qualify! Currently, individuals with the following conditions can get vaccinated:
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions (including heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies)
- Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Liver Disease
- Neurological conditions (including but not limited to dementia and Alzheimer’s)
- Overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2)
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
- Pulmonary Fibrosis (damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Sickle cell disease
- Smoking/nicotine addiction
- Thalassemia (type of blood disorder)
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus
As of April 5th, the following individuals will be eligible:
- Individuals aged 55-64
- Individuals 16 and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities
- Communications, IT, media, and press
- Laundry service workers
- Real estate, building, and home services
- Retail financial institutions
- Sanitation workers
- Utility employees
- Higher Education, including support staff and educators
For a full list of eligible individuals, please visit the New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine site.
How do I make an appointment?
If you have yet to register with the NJ Health vaccine scheduling system, please consider doing so. It only takes about 15 minutes to register, and then they’ll reach out to you with potential appointments for the vaccine.
New Jersey also encourages eligible individuals to book directly with vaccination locations who do not take appointments through the scheduling system. You can browse the list on the state site and call or visit their websites in hopes of finding an available appointment.
While it may seem daunting or difficult to get an appointment, here are a couple of tips I’ve learned over the past few weeks that helped my friends and me –
CVS releases vaccination appointments often. The key is to search late at night, around 12AM to 2AM. It sounds a bit tedious, but if you sit and refresh every half hour or so, you’re likely to come across available appointments in your area.
Search for tips online or from vaccinated friends. I learned about available vaccinations through a friend of mine who would share available times and sites on Instagram. Twitter accounts like @nj_vaccine have also been a great help to individuals looking to book online. They share tips and available appointments regularly.
What should I know beforehand?
As you prepare to get vaccinated, make sure you review the list of side effects for your vaccine. With the first dose, many people experience arm soreness and tenderness that subsides after a couple of days. The second dose usually brings a more intense set of side effects, including flu-like symptoms such as chills and a low-grade fever. These are normal side effects for the vaccines. It’s just a sign that your body is building protection against the virus. If you think you are experiencing a severe reaction to either dose, please seek immediate medical attention. It can also help to learn more about how vaccines work before you book an appointment. The CDC offers in-depth explanations of the types of vaccines and how they work. Please note that none of the vaccines can give you COVID-19.
After getting vaccinated, you will be asked to stay in the facility for 15 minutes to be monitored for potential side effects or several allergic reactions. If you feel fine after 15 minutes, you’re free to go. If you’re wondering which medications can be helpful for arm pain after getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor about taking acetaminophen, antihistamines, ibuprofen, or aspirin. It is not recommended that you take these over-the-counter medicines before vaccination solely for the intention of preventing pain, as it is still uncertain how they interact with the vaccine.