New Jersey Preparing to Reopen COVID-19 Vaccine Mega Sites for Booster Shots

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

TRENTON, N.J. — During his COVID-19 briefing on Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state will be prepared to reopen its six COVID-19 vaccine mega sites in order to efficiently administer booster shots.

Current plans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicate that eligible Americans will be able to receive a third booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals will become eligible to receive a booster shot eight months after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine model. However, booster doses have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but Pfizer is working to have its booster model approved.

The federal government set a goal of September 20 to begin administering booster shots. Although it’s unclear when exactly Americans will be able to receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, top New Jersey officials will be prepared to reopen the state’s six COVID-19 vaccine mega sites.

“We expect to have at least one mega site up almost immediately — if not September 20th, shortly after that,” Judy Persichilli, the commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Health, said. “We expect two other mega sites within the state to cover the regions north, central, and south. We would like all 21 counties to have a vaccination site that people can be directed to in addition to all of the existing outlets that we currently have.”

Of the six New Jersey COVID-19 vaccine mega sites, two were located in South Jersey. One was based on Rowan College of South Jersey’s Gloucester campus in Deptford Township, and the other was located at the Moorestown Mall in Burlington County.

The six COVID-19 vaccine mega sites all closed over the summer as the state shifted its vaccination effort’s focus to a more local approach.

As Gov. Murphy noted on Monday, there are plenty of questions remaining regarding the booster shots — including who exactly will be eligible to receive them on September 20. According to the Governor, as many as 2.4 million New Jerseyans could be eligible to receive a booster shot right away.

“We are working hard to ensure that we will be able to meet what we anticipate will be a very high demand, but as we sit here right now, there remains uncertainty from the federal government regarding who will need to get in line for a booster and when,” Gov. Murphy said. “And as soon as we get that information from the federal Food and Drug Administration and the [CDC] Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, we will let you all know.”

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing the pandemic’s most serious illnesses. However, data shows the vaccines’ effectiveness against mild-to-moderate COVID-19 wanes after 6-8 months, which creates the need for a booster dose.

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