CAMDEN, NJ — The New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner says their office has learned of residents canceling their two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccine appointments in order to stand by for a Johnson & Johnson shot, which requires just one shot.

Commissioner Judy Persichilli advised against it Monday afternoon during Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 press briefing from Trenton.

“As a reminder, our state won't be getting shipments of the J&J vaccine for the next three weeks. If you choose to wait for the J&J vaccine, you will go back into the queue,” Persichilli said. “If that is your choice, we respect that. However, as public health experts, including Dr. Fauci have said, we urge individuals to take the first vaccine that becomes available to them.”

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“It’s a personal choice, but I would say take whichever vaccine is offered,” a city spokesman similarly noted to TAPinto Camden after the state press conference.

When should you cancel an appointment? 

Spokesperson Dan Keashen says it brings to the forefront a major logistical problem faced locally: vaccine shopping.

"A challenge we're finding is that individuals are appointment shopping and when they get an appointment at one site, they're failing to cancel at other sites or our site," said Keashen, referring to the county's site at Camden County College's Blackwood campus. 

"If there's a message, I would say it's vitally important to ensure if you do [complete] an appointment that you take it upon yourself to cancel the other appointments."

In some cases, Keashen said the county can defrost a dose in anticipation of patient, who doesn't arrive because they're already been processed elsewhere.  

Status of vaccine rollout and new case numbers

As of Monday, the state has administered 2,511,731 doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine - including roughly 861,000 people fully vaccinated with two shots.

Commissioner Director Lou Cappelli said after the weekend that the county has surpassed more than 145,000 vaccine doses.

“This morning, we opened two more of our community-based vaccination sites [with] partnering churches in Jersey City and Camden, part of our effort to ensure the most equitable vaccination program in the nation,” Murphy said.

The community vaccine center in Camden - run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - is located at the BB&T Center at 1 Harbour Blvd. To book an appointment you can call the Mayor's office at 856-757-7200 or email your name, date of birth, phone number and email address to Mayor@ci.camden.nj.us.

To access other sites in your area, including one of the six mega-sites where officials have passed 500,000 shots, click here.

The Garden State today confirmed another 2,201 new positive pcr tests and 421 new antigen tests, with totals of 711,991 pcr and 91,919 antigen. There were also 20 new deaths announced, making 21,193 confirmed and 2,331 still considered “probable.”

Here are additional figures from the state-level:

  • 7.13% positivity rate
  • 1.06 rate of transmission
  • 1,786 hospitalization
  • 393 patients in intensive/critical care
  • 237 patients on ventilators
  • 179 patients discharged Sunday
  • 175 patients admitted Sunday
  • 23 in-hospital deaths Sunday (yet to be official linked to COVID-19

Persichilli said this week the state of 9 million expects to receive over 374,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week. The delivery will comprise over 198,000 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and over 176,000 second doses for people to complete their inoculation process.

The state has 2 million people registered in its queue as of Monday, a week after the state marked one year since its first case last week.

“The goal of our vaccination plan is to prevent morbidity and mortality and to support essential societal functions…and these priorities are difficult to reconcile because we certainly believe all individuals are worthy and need to be vaccinated,” Persichilli added. “Once we have enough supply, everyone who wants to be vaccinated will get vaccinated. I am getting lots of requests from different groups, including advocates for senior citizens, migrant or seasonal workers, the homebound and people experiencing homelessness etc. I want to assure everyone that all specific and vulnerable populations are under consideration in each will have a plan.”

The governor was asked toward the end of the brief about his administration’s response to a new CDC advisory stating that fully vaccinated people can gather with other fully vaccinated people indoors.

Murphy, while emphasizing that hospitalizations are “going in the right direction,” said it was to be determined as the state is still assessing.

“It is really great that we're seeing a decrease in our cases and our hospitalizations and deaths. But it's not just from vaccination alone, we have to remind ourselves that right now, we're nowhere near the finish line, nowhere near the vaccination coverage that we’d like,” said Christina Tan, state epidemiologist. “That's why we have to continue the masking, the social distancing all those layers of interventions on top of the vaccinations to keep us on track with success in stemming COVID.”

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