Smokers now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey, but good luck getting one

TOMS RIVER, NJ – The good news is, if you’re a smoker in New Jersey, you can now get online to get a COVID-19 vaccine.  The bad news is, you might not be able to find a line to get on.

While you can still pre-register for a vaccine inoculation. in New Jersey, but pharmacies across the state are booked solid.

“Due to overwhelming demand, our COVID-19 Vaccine appointment schedule is FULL – there are currently no new appointments available. Please check back at a later date. We are working hard to secure additional vaccines and open appointment availability. We are sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience,” read a message Thursday on the Shop-Rite pharmacy website. “At this time, select ShopRite Pharmacies —including 39 ShopRite Pharmacies in New Jersey and our ShopRite Pharmacy in Pearl River, New York —are working to offer vaccines in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.”

Along with smokers, Governor Phil Murphy announced two additional categories of New Jersey residents eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Beginning on Thursday, all New Jersey residents ages 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.

Those conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Individuals who are pregnant and those in an immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant are also eligible but should follow CDC guidance and first discuss vaccination with their medical provider before receiving the vaccine. In addition to paid and unpaid healthcare workers in Phase 1A, these two groups mark the expansion of eligible residents in Phase 1B, which recently opened to include sworn law enforcement and fire professionals.

“Over the last several months, our Administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” said Governor Murphy. “Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”