NJ seniors who need a COVID vaccine have these resources open
Amid the state's largely online appointment approach for COVID-19 vaccines, senior residents do have a few specific resources available.
For starters, the Vaccine Call Center is again fully operational, according to state health commissioner Judith Persichilli at Wednesday's pandemic response briefing.
After more extensive training took appointment-making off the table for those dialing 1-855-568-0545, call center workers are again helping to book actual vaccine appointments as available and eligible, between 8 a.m and 8 p.m. each day.
So far, 14,000 appointments for vaccinations have been set through the call center, she added.
For residents 75 and older, there also is a dedicated phone line, 1-856-249-7007, for those struggling with the computer and internet requirements of many self-booking opportunities.
Around the state, Walmart has been setting aside a minimum of 10,000 doses weekly for seniors, 65 and older, Gov. Phil Murphy said at the same briefing.
There are more than 30 Walmart and Sam's Club locations currently participating in COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the state, according to the company last week.
In between the staggered levels of eligibility rolled out since December, state health officials have begun a special effort to vaccinate New Jerseyans 75 and older.
The oldest demographic of the state's population account for roughly 50% of the state's COVID-19 related deaths, Persichilli said.
Since the special hotline was setup, and since Walmart began setting senior specific appointments, the number of residents 75 and older who have gotten at least one vaccine shot increased from 33% to 58% of the age group, the health commissioner said.
That effort has been expected to continue until reaching 70% of those 75 and older, while there also is now additional focus on another decade or so of residents, with those 65 and older, she added.
Another group of eligible residents, educators and child care workers, working to book their own appointments might find easier success through the pharmacies enrolled in the federal vaccine program.
CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens are each reserving appointments for, and prioritizing, educators and child care workers, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday.
The governor has said he expects the supply versus demand gap in vaccine to remain a notable issue until the end of March, when he said the federal supply of doses would "take off."
Until then, residents unable to find their own appointments have been seeking help from specific volunteer groups that have formed in response to the need, connecting largely through social media.
As of Wednesday, shots given in-state accounted for 1.1 million fully vaccinated people, Murphy said, with a total of 3.14 million doses (either first or second) distributed.