Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues across New Jersey. We will update this page regularly with new information as it becomes available.

Please Note: The Middlesex County Regional COVID-19 Vaccine Mega-site is now closed. There are still many venues for vaccination across New Jersey, and vaccine access will continue through our RWJBarnabas Health hospitals.

RWJBarnabas Health is now 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.

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 age 16 and older, and continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 to 15 years of age. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are available under EUA for individuals 18 and older. The Moderna vaccine may also be given as a third dose to certain immunocompromised individuals. All of the vaccines are being distributed in New Jersey and around the country.

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?

The vaccine you receive depends upon availability at the site during the time of your appointment. 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. When you arrive at a vaccination center, please prepared to accept the vaccine that is available.

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 aged 12 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 12 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?

Individuals who meet the CDC criteria for high-risk individuals may receive the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot at least six months after completion of the primary series (first and second shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine). The Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot is not authorized for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines. The CDC has not yet made recommendations about booster shots for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. 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. Currently, only a Pfizer-BioNTech booster is recommended, and only for certain high-risk populations. For more information, read the CDC recommendations.

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

There are many locations throughout the state for vaccination, including state and county mega-sites, smaller vaccine centers including several of our Medical Group practice sites and retail pharmacies.

Several mega-sites throughout New Jersey are now open to serve as vaccination hubs:

  • Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center
  • Bergen County: Racetrack at Meadowlands, East Rutherford
  • Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey, Sewell
  • Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare

How can I schedule my COVID-19 vaccination?

If you qualify for vaccination, you can make an appointment at any of the state's vaccination sites at this time. For a full list of these sites, visit the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System. You can also register directly with RWJBarnabas Health for vaccination at These online portals enable you to 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. Until the vaccine is widely available, 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

    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 NJ to find your record through the app.

    This is not a "vaccine passport." It’s intended solely to give NJ 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:

    More Information

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