Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine and Vaccine Registration

Blocks spelling out FAQ for frequently asked questionsThe COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues across New Jersey. We will update this page regularly with new information as it becomes available.

RWJBarnabas Health is vaccinating eligible individuals in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) guidelines. We continue to be at the forefront of the battle against the virus, working every day to keep our communities safe and healthy.

Below are some frequently asked questions about the safety, effectiveness and availability of the vaccines, and about registering for the vaccine.

What COVID-19 vaccines are available now?

The COVID vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech called Comirnaty has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in individuals ages 16 and older, and is available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 5 to 15 years of age.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are available under EUA for individuals 18 and older.

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines may also be given as a third dose to certain immunocompromised individuals.

COVID-19 Vaccination - Employee Anthony Patten
“I got the vaccine to show others that it’s safe and let’s get COVID under control. I think this is the right thing for us to do, not only for ourselves but for the patients. Because if we want to take good care of our patients, we have to be in good health.”
– Anthony Patten, Jr., PA-C, Assistant Director, Hospital-based Providers/Cardiothoracic Surgery Physician Assistant, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick

Who should NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccines, you should not get the vaccines.

How safe are the COVID-19 vaccines?

The FDA is responsible for making sure that, just like any other medications, any FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and they work. Clinical trials testing vaccines are conducted according to rigorous safety standards. When vaccines receive approval or authorization, you can rest assured that they have been deemed safe for distribution. All of the currently available vaccines were tested in clinical trials on tens of thousands of people.

If I'm pregnant or breastfeeding, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine; American Society for Reproductive Medicine; and the CDC now strongly recommend vaccination for individuals who are pregnant, breast feeding and contemplating pregnancy. This recommendation is supported in a joint statement by 19 additional organizations representing experts in maternal care and public health. Read the statement here.

Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals can discuss the benefits v. risks with their healthcare provider to help them make an informed decision. While a conversation with a healthcare provider may be helpful, it is not required prior to vaccination. Visit the CDC website for more information.

Does the vaccine have an impact on fertility?

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine would reduce one’s natural fertility or affect future fertility. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine assert that loss of fertility due to the vaccine is scientifically unlikely, and that any such claims are unfounded and have no scientific evidence supporting them.

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?

All of the currently available vaccines were tested in clinical trials on tens of thousands of people and were determined by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe and effective for their intended use.

COVID-19 vaccines help protect individuals and communities against severe disease, hospitalization and death. While the vaccines are 66 to 95 percent effective in preventing a COVID-19 infection, they are close to 100 percent effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Hospitalizations and mortality rates among vaccinated individuals are very low, while the numbers of unvaccinated individuals being hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 are rising. Getting vaccinated remains the most important thing we can do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, slow the spread of the disease and ultimately end the pandemic.

Can I choose which vaccine I get?

Adults 18 and older may choose the vaccine they wish to receive when scheduling an appointment. Children and teens ages 5 to 17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The dose for children ages 5 to 11 is 10 micrograms. For children over 12 years of age and for adults, the dose is 30 micrograms.

The booster shot you receive does not have to be the same brand of vaccine as the one you originally received. Boosters may be mixed and matched. For example, Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients may receive a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after completing their primary vaccination.

Read the COVID-19 booster shot recommendations from the CDC.

All of the available vaccines distributed by the State of New Jersey have been proven to protect against COVID-19 and prevent hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. The actual virus is not part of the ingredients, so you cannot be infected by them.

What are the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

The vaccines may have localized side effects at the injection site, as well as mild symptoms of short-term discomfort. In rare cases, allergic reactions may occur. For details on the specific vaccines’ ingredients and possible side effects, visit:

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

All individuals ages 5 and older who live, work or study in New Jersey are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be used for those ages 5 through 17.

Who can get an additional (third) dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC has recommended that people whose immune systems are compromised moderately to severely should receive an additional (third) dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) after the initial two doses. This third dose is recommended at least 28 days after the second dose and is not for people who have received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. The CDC recommendation follows the FDA’s decision to amend the emergency use authorizations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to ensure those most vulnerable to COVID-19 can get as much protection form possible from COVID-19 vaccination. If you are immunocompromised, talk to your healthcare provider about your medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for you. Learn more about who is considered moderately to severely immunocompromised from the CDC.

Who can get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone ages 12 and older may get a booster shot, based on their primary round of the vaccine:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech Booster Dose - Get at least 5 months after completion of the primary series. Ages 12+
  • Moderna Booster Dose - Get at least 5 months after completion of the primary series. The booster shot is a half dose (50 micrograms versus 100 micrograms per each dose of the primary 2-dose series). Ages 18+
  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Booster Dose - Get at least 2 months after receipt of the single-dose J&J vaccine. Ages 18+

The CDC’s recommendations now allow for mix-and-match dosing for booster shots, meaning you may get a COVID-19 booster dose that is different from your initial dose(s). Only the Pfizer-BioNTech shot is authorized for ages 12 to 17.

Read the COVID-19 booster shot recommendations from the CDC.

What is the difference between a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot?

A third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals who might not develop enough immunity after vaccination with two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. A booster shot is designed to prolong immunity. For more information, read the CDC recommendations.

Where can I go to get the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey?

If you qualify for vaccination, you can make an appointment at any of the vaccination sites across the state of New Jersey based on vaccine availability. For a full list of these sites, visit the NJ Vaccine Finder. You can also register directly with RWJBarnabas Health for vaccination at RWJBH.org/covid19vaccine, where you can pre-register and schedule an appointment.

After I get the COVID-19 vaccine, will I still have to wear a mask and practice social distancing?

Yes. While COVID-19 vaccines protect against severe infection, they may not prevent mild or asymptomatic infection. If this is the case, an infected person could still spread the virus. This is why it is expected that even after a vaccine becomes available, people will need to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing measures for some time.

If I can’t get the COVID-19 vaccine yet, what should I do in the meantime?

Keep doing what you can to minimize your exposure to the virus. Avoid large gatherings of people. When in the company of others, try and maintain six feet of distance between you to prevent transmission. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds or longer and avoid touching your face. For more guidance, read COVID-19 Prevention Strategies.

What if I have medical questions about COVID-19 (not vaccine-related)?

For medical questions about COVID-19 that are not vaccine-related, you may:

If I experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, what should I do?

If you have a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

Report vaccine side effects to FDA/CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The VAERS toll-free number is 1-800-822-7967. Or, report online to https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.

    I lost my COVID-19 vaccination card. How can I get my vaccination record?

    New Jerseyans who’ve lost or damaged their vaccine card can download a free app called Docket to access their COVID-19 vaccination record. The Docket app is available through Apple and Google Play app stores. You need to have been vaccinated in New Jersey to find your record through the app.

    This is not a "vaccine passport." It’s intended solely to give New Jersey residents easy access to their COVID-19 vaccination record.

    Docket is owned by New-York based Docket Health Inc., and has been approved by the CDC. The app adheres to federal and state security and privacy standards.

    Those wishing to get a hard copy of their lost or damaged vaccine card can request it via NJDOH’s website — by clicking on “Request Immunization Record” at the top of the page.

    Find the Docket app:

    Where can I find more Information about COVID-19 and vaccines?

    For the most current information about when and where to receive the vaccine in New Jersey, visit the NJDOH website.

    I want to talk to someone about the COVID-19 vaccine. Who can I talk to?

    If you have clinical questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, it is important that you discuss them with your primary care physician or healthcare provider. In addition, you can find frequently asked questions about the vaccine on our COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ page. The New Jersey State Vaccine Call Center (1-855-568-0545) can answer questions about the vaccines as well.

    The New Jersey Department of Health has the following resources to help people who need assistance or have questions about vaccine registration:

    • Vaccine Questions - (855) 568-0545 - Hotline to answer questions about the vaccine, provide contact information for vaccine sites, check registration status and update registration information; the hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
    • Senior Assistance - (856) 249-7007 - Hotline to assist seniors 75 years and older with registering for, and scheduling and re-scheduling the COVID-19 vaccine.

    COVID-19 Vaccine Registration

    Who can sign up to get a vaccine at RWJBarnabas Health?

    RWJBarnabas Health is operating COVID-19 vaccine clinics at all of our hospitals for all individuals ages 5 and older who live, work or study in New Jersey. For updates on eligibility for the vaccine, please visit the official NJ State eligibility page.

    How do I sign up to get a vaccine at RWJBarnabas Health?

    People ages 5 or older who live, work or study in New Jersey can register for the vaccine online at rwjbh.org/covid19vaccine. Registrations can only be made online. We have RWBarnabas Health-affiliated vaccination centers where appointments may also be available.

    Community members can visit:

    There are many venues for vaccination across New Jersey, and vaccine access will continue through our RWJBarnabas Health hospitals. Additionally, the New Jersey Department of Health website has a complete list of vaccination sites across the state.

    I filled out a form for the vaccine at RWJBarnabas Health. What happens next?

    If you filled out a registration form to receive the vaccine at one of our RWJBarnabas Health hospitals, a scheduling link will automatically be sent as a text message and email to the phone number and email address you entered in the registration form. Then you can schedule your appointment.

    The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are currently two-dose vaccines. When you schedule your first-dose appointment, you must be able to return to the same RWJBarnabas Health facility for your second dose 21 or 28 days after your first dose, depending the vaccine you receive. On the day of your vaccine, you will receive an automatic appointment for your second dose.

    I put an incorrect cell phone/email/etc. on the registration form. What do I do?

    If you filled out the registration form incorrectly, you will need to fill out a new registration form at rwjbh.org/covid19vaccine.

    I have to cancel or reschedule my appointment. What do I do?

    To cancel or reschedule your appointment, re-open the email or text message link you originally used to schedule your appointment and you will be directed back to the vaccine scheduling application. Once logged in, you will have the option to cancel and reschedule.

    I cannot register my spouse/parent/other after I registered. What do I do?

    The appointment system does not enable you to use the same email address or cell phone number when making appointments for other people (this is in place to prevent people from making more than one appointment for themselves). For this reason, you must use a different cell phone and email address for each additional person you register for the vaccine. If you need to create an email address, you can easily create one here.

    I made my appointment. If I receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, when will my second-dose appointment be scheduled?

    The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are currently two-dose vaccines. If you receive one of these, you must be able to return to the same RWJBarnabas Health facility for your second dose 21 or 28 days after your first dose, depending on which vaccine it is (you do not have a choice regarding the vaccine you receive). On the day you receive the first dose of the vaccine, you will receive an automatic appointment for the second dose 21 or 28 days later.

    If I received my first dose elsewhere, can I schedule my second dose an RWJBarnabas Health facility?

    Unfortunately, no. It is recommended that you return to the location you received your first dose. If you are unable to do so, please register using the form on our website.

    I made my appointment. Where do I go once I get to the hospital?

    Go through the main entrance of the hospital where you will be directed to the vaccine clinic.

    I made an appointment. What do I bring with me to my appointment?

    Please bring the following with you to your appointment:

    • Cell phone
    • Confirmation message
    • Government-issued ID
    • Insurance card

    Please wear a mask and ensure you wear clothing that allows access to your upper arm.

    I have a vaccine appointment, but I do not feel well.

    If you have a fever or cold/respiratory symptoms on the date of your vaccine appointment, or if you have COVID-19 or are still under quarantine, you must cancel your appointment. Please do not come to the vaccine clinic. To cancel and reschedule your appointment, re-open the original scheduling link you used to access the scheduling application. Once logged in, you will have the option to cancel and reschedule.

    Can I bring someone in to accompany me to get my vaccine?

    If you are getting your vaccine at an RWJBarnabas Health hospital, please consult the visitation guidelines before you visit.

    I/someone I know wants to get vaccinated but isn’t proficient in English. Can they come to an RWJBarnabas Health site?

    Yes. We have materials printed in multiple languages and we use a telephonic language interpreter for translation.

    Can I choose which vaccine I receive?

    Adults 18 and older may choose the vaccine they wish to receive when scheduling an appointment. Children and teens ages 5 to 17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The dose for children ages 5 to 11 is 10 micrograms. For people 12 years of age and older, the dose is 30 micrograms.

    Note: Both doses of the two-dose vaccine series must be from the same manufacturer (if your first dose is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, your second dose will be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine; and if your first dose is the Moderna vaccine, your second dose will be the Moderna vaccine).

    The booster shot you receive does not have to be the same brand of vaccine as the one you originally received. Boosters may be mixed and matched. For example, Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients may receive a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 5months after completing their primary vaccination.

    I have to cancel or reschedule my second-dose appointment. What do I do?

    Once you are vaccinated with the first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, you will receive an automatic appointment for the second dose. To cancel or reschedule your appointment, re-open the email or text message link you originally used to schedule your appointment and you will be directed back to the vaccine scheduling application. Once logged in, you will have the option to cancel and reschedule.

    I heard the vaccine is free. Why do I have to provide my insurance information when I schedule my vaccine appointment?

    When you schedule your vaccine you will be prompted to provide your insurance information, as vaccine administration is covered by insurance. You should not have a balance or co-pay associated, or any other out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine. If you do not have insurance, please leave the insurance field blank.

    I’m a patient of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group. I’ve been told that you have the COVID-19 vaccine. Will my doctor be able to give it to me?

    At this time, our Medical Group practices do not have the vaccines. Vaccines are being distributed throughout New Jersey. To find available appointments, view the Vaccine Appointment Finder.

    Will I automatically be scheduled for a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine after receiving the first dose?

    Yes. At the time you receive your first dose, will receive a link to your phone or email with the appointment date and time for your second dose.