Your goal is to get vaccinated. Mine too!! Call me a “WV” (Wannabe Vaccinated). I am “1B” qualified, and so far am on a bunch of lists, but have not received my first shot. If you aren’t offered a vaccine through your work, and no one else has contacted you to offer you one, then expect to be last on every list. If you don’t want to wait, you can try to get vaccinated. You probably know people who have done this, successfully. Right now, as I write this, it’s unlikely that any vaccine distribution site will actually schedule you, immediately, at the time you contact them. However, if they know what they’re doing and want your business, they will have a waiting list.
This process is in constant flux. It will change. Here’s how:
- In a few weeks or a month, not only should there be more vaccine, hopefully slots will open up because the vaccinators have over-estimated the demand because so many of us have signed up on multiple lists! That’s good.
- But, it might turn out a few weeks or a month from now, that ALL the people who are trying to get their second shot will be the priority at all the locations, and there still won’t be any appointments for the rest of us. I know, it’s a frustrating mess.
- Caveat Lector—The information below will undoubtedly change. Sites will be improved, processes streamlined, all good stuff, I hope. I won’t be chasing those changes. (It’s too much work!!) If you stick to the basic guidelines, you’ll be fine…
To be clear, apply only at sites that will:
- 🗒 Put you on a waiting list and
- 📞 Reliably contact you when they do have vaccine or
- 📅 Schedule a vaccination appointment immediately. They should also make it easy to…
- 📆 Schedule your second visit preferably when you schedule the first visit, or at least, when you get your first injection. (Until the J&J Vaccine becomes available, full immunity REQUIRES TWO INJECTIONS). You want to sign up with a site that is smart enough to schedule you for both. They should not expect you to go through this whole quest all over again for the second shot.
Got it? You can go with that, or read on for more details.
We’ll start at the “top”…
The CDC Guidelines— The CDC has set guidelines to prioritize vaccinations for the most important or most vulnerable groups, people who ought to get vaccinated first. Unfortunately, states and distribution sites are inconsistent in applying the guidelines. And, a lot of states have “opened” up vaccinations to lower priority groups long before they’ve received or distributed enough vaccine to the groups that were supposed to be vaccinated first. I can’t change that, President Biden will try, meanwhile I’m just telling it the way it is…
The NJ State Program —In New Jersey (and maybe in other states, but I’m talking about New Jersey here) you can sign up for the state distribution program. They will screen you and let you know whether you are eligible based on state guidelines. Don’t waste your time. Once eligible, they tell you to go find your own vaccine. Which means you have to register somewhere else, and all the distribution sites do their own screening. So skip the state, and get on with your search. (There’s a huge list of sites where you can get vaccinated in New Jersey—you just have to find one with vaccine.) And I have more time-saving advice…
Hunterdon County Health Dept. (My top choice)
🗒📞📅📆—For me, and maybe for you and your county health department, this is the best bet, because after a month of flailing around with “Survey Monkey” and no waiting list, the Hunterdon County Health Dept. has become transparent and organized. They have a list of 5000, confirm that you are on the list via email, “guarantee” if you get on the list you will get vaccine when they have it, sending out notices each Wednesday as they get vaccine, and automatically schedule your second visit when you receive your first shot. Period. Be patient and try to get on their “list of 5000”.
Nobody’s perfect, the Health Department server got overwhelmed on the first day, but I did get a confirmation that I was registered. Be patient!
Hunterdon Health Care, our local Medical Center
? ? ? ?—These guys are a big disappointment. After several previous web-only fiascos, they announced a clinic with dial-in. This began at 8:00 am, with no online access, no waiting list, just call supposedly and schedule an appointment. I made 53 Calls in 30 minutes. Never got through, never spoke to a human. As I’ve said, if they can’t even manage a waiting list, don’t bother. On their web site, it doesn’t even look like they are getting any more vaccine. I’m sure they’ll do better, but when?
Other Hospitals, Medical Facilities—By word of mouth, I heard about several sites that seemed to be organized, maintain lists, and actually vaccinate people. Of course, by the time you hear about these, so have thousands of other WV’s . Although I’m still waiting, for all my readers in Beautiful Western Central New Jersey, I will share my secrets:
- St. Luke’s University Health Network
🗒📞📅📆 —Headquartered in Bethlehem, PA, they do serve clients from New Jersey and have a location in Philipsburg, NJ. Sign in to their “My Chart” program, they maintain a list and they will stay in touch after you pre-register for the Covid vaccine. I know people who succeeded in getting vaccinated here.
- RWJ/Barnabas Health
🗒📞📅 ? — They have lots of locations in New Jersey, and provide vaccinators to several of the state “Super Sites”. They maintain a list, and I have been told that people I know were contacted and vaccinated. https://www.rwjbh.org/patients-visitors/what-you-need-to-know-about-covid-19/schedule-a-vaccine/covid-19-vaccine-appointment-request-form/
- Virtua Health
🗒📞📅 ?—Virtua runs the Moorestown “Mega Site”, the only one I list here. After experiencing the frustration of some of the more inept sites (see CVS and Rite Aid, below), this one will give you confidence. I know several people who have been vaccinated there after signing on to the list on this web site. https://www.virtua.org/services/covid19-vaccine-info
? ? 📅📆—This sounds like a great idea! Search for the first dose by trying different locations until you find a pharmacy with timeslots available. Then, immediately try to schedule. Whoops! If you ‘re not fast enough, the open slots disappear, and now you have to search for another location! If you actually get an appointment, they “hold” that slot for you, Hooray!!
But you must schedule your second dose before they even take your name! You must go through the process again, locate a pharmacy with vaccine, quickly select a time, and click the [Continue Scheduling] button.
Almost there!! And you wait. And wait. And nothing happens. The site seems to be locked up. But what about all those timeslots they are holding?? Sorry…
Remember: they don’t have any of your information yet. If you click [Cancel], or refresh the web page, or click the browser “back” button….POOF!! It’s all gone, and you have to start over. That happened to me twice! And I gave up. This is just BAD DESIGN. The Good News is that when CVS doesn’t have any available slots, you can’t even search for a location—at least they save you the trouble. No list. (Psst: Someone told me if you go on at 4 AM, you might find some open spots. Have at it!!)
? ? 📅📆—This sure sounds like a great idea! Another convenient pharmacy with vaccinations! When CVS doesn’t have vaccine, they don’t ask you to pick a store and see if there are appointments. BUT that’s exactly how the Rite Aid site works! Enter your location, and they’ll give you a list of ten nearby stores. Then, you have to pick one, to see if it has vaccine. You have to go through the whole search to discover there is no vaccine available. BAD DESIGN. If successful, they will schedule the second appointment right away. Nothing available AFAICT, but I hear a rumor today that you should try at 5 AM. 🙂 If you get an appointment, let me know!!
Remember that every site screens you for eligibility? On the Rite Aid site, if your medical condition isn’t on their list, DO NOT select “None of the Above”. Do that, you will be immediately considered “not eligible”.
🗒 ? ? ?—This sure sounds like a great idea! Another convenient pharmacy with vaccinations! You have to sign up with Walgreen’s and/or download their app before they will even tell you if they have vaccine available. They get you on their list before you get any information. Pretty clever!! I will just say, no vaccine, no list, no thank you. Your mileage may vary.
? ? ? ? —Shoprite Pharmacy—This sure sounds like…oh never mind. I wasn’t going to include Shoprite, because after having vaccine early on, now they don’t seem to have any at all. At least they don’t make you wait online or bother with a list. They just tell you, “We don’t have any, all slots are taken.”
So there you have it Christo’s helpful summary of the current status of getting a vaccine in New Jersey (and elsewhere in the USA). Remember the basics, be patient and do your T’ai Chi. If you haven’t had enough already, I’ve included links to more vaccine info with suggestions and guidance. Good luck, Stay Healthy, and Keep Wearing a Mask!!
Vaccine Articles and References:
🦠 FLASH!! – THIS JUST IN‼️ (FEB. 25, 2021)
VaccineFinder.Org (CDC)— The CDC now supports a “curation” site that pulls much of this COVID Vaccine info together in one place. My impression is it might save you a little time, but results in a “tease” – informing you that CVS in Trenton has vaccine, but when you click the [Schedule] button, you get the same “No Appointments Available” result that comes up when you go direct to their web site… Give it a try.
How and where to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in N.J. – WHYY Where you should go to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey, and why there are so many websites to do it.
— Read on whyy.org/articles/how-to-register-for-the-covid-19-vaccine-in-new-jersey/
How Do I Get A COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment? : Shots – Health News : NPR
— Read on www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/02/18/967448680/how-to-sign-up-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-in-your-state
Johnson & Johnson one-dose Covid vaccine shown to work | World news | The Guardian UK has bought 30m doses of product that could transform world’s immunisation programmes
— Read on www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/29/janssen-one-dose-vaccine-shown-to-work-against-covid
Why Some Who Are Vaccinated Still Get Coronavirus – The New York Times Experts say cases like these are not surprising and do not indicate that there was something wrong with the vaccines or how they were administered.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/us/covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-positive.html
Covid-19 Vaccines – The latest news and resources about the coronavirus vaccines to help you better understand and navigate the path to life after the pandemic. — Read on www.nytimes.com/spotlight/coronavirus-vaccin
P.S.: Hang in there!! Stay Healthy and #WearAMask