Who is next to get COVID-19 vaccine in NJ? Top Stories for 12/21
As New Jersey starts to take delivery of the newly approved Moderna vaccine, thousands of frontline healthcare workers will be lining up again Monday to receive their shots. Who will be next?
The vaccine is not likely to be widely available to the general public for months yet, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is out with recommendations of who should receive it next. For now, patient-facing healthcare workers and nursing home residents are getting priority. The next round of eligible individuals for inoculation will include police officers, firefighters and teachers. The CDC also recommends allowing other essential workers — including grocery store workers — be allowed to get the shot. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 who has a serious underlying medical condition would also be eligible. All of this, however, is contingent on how much vaccine is available.
Gov. Phil Murphy and state officials laid out their own plan for vaccine distribution Friday, with similar priorities. The first group — designated 1A — includes healthcare workers, as well as long-term facility residents and staff. Next up in 1B are essential workers. After that, in 1C, adults over the age of 65 and those with high-risk medical conditions. And then, eventually, the vaccine will be available to the general public. That effort will be helped along by the opening of "mega-centers," which will allow for walk-up service.
State officials expect to be focusing on the 1A group into February.
President-Elect Joe Biden is due to receive his shot today in a public event designed to assure Americans the inoculations are safe. It's not clear which vaccine Biden will receive. Murphy has yet to be vaccinated. He has said he will get the shot, but not until every healthcare worker who wants it, gets it. Murphy is considered in a high-risk group following his surgery for kidney cancer earlier this year. New Jersey's largest hospital network, RWJ-Barnabas Healthcare, will begin offering vaccines to its workers at several hospitals they operate statewide.
Can I choose which vaccine I receive?
This question is asked a lot. The short answer is probably not. At least not now. The CDC says there is very little difference between the two vaccines. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are considered more than 94% effective at preventing you from getting sick from COVID-19. Both use the same mRNA technology to teach your body how to defend against COVID-19. Both require two shots weeks apart. Side effects are very similar, including fatigue and muscle pain. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in those 16 and older, the Moderna vaccine in those 18 and older.
The biggest difference is how the vaccines are stored, and that may ultimately determine which one you get. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at super-cold temperatures, and the number of healthcare facilities with that capability is limited. The Moderna vaccine can be stored at temperatures similar to a standard refrigerator. That makes it more likely to eventually be widely available in doctors' offices and medical clinics. As more data is compiled about each of the vaccines, doctors could make a recommendation for you to receive one over the other.
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