©istockphoto.com/Udom Pinyo

CVS and Rite Aid locations in NJ got their first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines this week. While appointments for those doses have already been filled, there are more shipments slated to come soon.

If you’re looking to get your vaccination at CVS, its website may be overloaded, but bookmark this link to check as new shipments come in (and to see as they expand to more locations). Rite Aid appointments can be scheduled through the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System on the state’s COVID website.  Those currently eligible are first responders, people age 65 and over and anyone 16 and up with medical conditions as defined by the CDC.

In New Jersey, as of Friday, more than 1.2 million vaccine doses have been administered. During a press conference on Wednesday, NJ’s commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli, reassured residents who have gotten their first doses. “We have reserved second doses for all who have received first doses,” Persichilli said. She also reminded those getting vaccinated that they should get their second dose at the same location where they got their first one.

Persichilli and Murphy both encouraged people to continue getting tested in order to slow the spread of the virus. Even if you are asymptomatic, it may keep you from spreading it to your friends and family. Also, positive and negative tests help the Governor and his team see the trends of outbreaks and cases.

On Thursday, President Biden announced the latest deals with both Pfizer and Moderna to not only get enough vaccines to cover all Americans but also to move up the timeline for those waiting for an appointment. “We’ve now purchased enough vaccine supplies to vaccinate all Americans,” Biden said. “Now we’re working to get those vaccines into the arms of millions of people.”

Additionally, Biden said, Pfizer and Moderna have agreed to expedite the delivery of 100 million doses — moving them up to May instead of June.  The new orders of the vaccines come on top of doses that are already scheduled to be delivered by the two companies in March, which will total 300 million doses.

A new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is slated to deliver more than 100 million doses as soon as its single-dose vaccine receives authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

Earlier this week, the CDC announced that those who have been fully vaccinated (which happens 14 days after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) will not have to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 if they are asymptomatic, for at least 90 days after being vaccinated. But the CDC still recommends that vaccinated people follow current guidance to protect themselves and others. That’s because while the two approved vaccines have demonstrated high efficacy at preventing severe and symptomatic COVID-10, there’s limited information about how much that will reduce transmission, or how long the protection will last. So once vaccinated, you’ll still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash hands and follow CDC travel guidelines.