BELLEVILLE-NUTLEY, NJ — Booster shots, available at pharmacies/clinics in Belleville, Nutley and Essex County, are the best defense against COVID-19 illnesses as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads across the country, according to health officials.
Breakthrough COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant — infections among the vaccinated — are less common among people who have received their third vaccination shots, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The omicron variant, first reported in South Africa on Nov. 24, has been detected in all but a handful of states, including New Jersey.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said Friday the Pfizer and Moderna booster shots work well against the omicron variant and that there's no need for a specific vaccine to fight it.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the omicron variant is likely to become the dominant coronavirus strain in the coming weeks. It currently represents 3 percent of new infections.
Public health officials are concerned that vaccination rates — currently 61 percent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, and only 28 percent have gotten booster shots — are insufficient to fend off a fifth wave of the coronavirus. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, with about 120,000 new cases and 1,200 deaths reported each day, mainly from the delta variant.
In New Jersey, everyone 16 years or older is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot at any vaccine location — as long as it has been at least six months after their last Pfizer or Moderna shot, or at least two months after their one dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
Everyone 5 years or older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey and is encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
These resources will help you find a booster shot —or a first or second dose —in Belleville, Nutley and Essex County:
Essex County vaccine availability and scheduling online.
The NJ Vaccine Appointment Finder helps you find available vaccination appointments near you or sites with walk-in vaccinations (no appointment needed).
Register with the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System to be notified when an appointment is available to you at vaccine locations that use the State's Vaccine Scheduling System.
Seniors 65+ can call the senior-specific hotline at 856-249-7007 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to schedule a dedicated vaccine appointment.
Many VA facilities and clinics are offering vaccines to veterans, their spouses, and their caregivers. Learn more here.
The CDC says Pfizer and Moderna booster shots both provide increased protection against COVID-19 and helped prevent severe symptoms in breakthrough cases.