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Due to very limited dose availability, we are not able to accommodate requests for appointments.  We are reaching out to our highest risk patients 75 and older per NJ Department of Health recommendations, and as our allocations and capacity allow. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Please note: We recommend that you register with vaccination location options, including state and local vaccine sites and retail pharmacies listed on the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub.

Please read on for more information on the vaccine.

 

COVID-19 VACCINE ELIGIBILITY

 Phase 1A: NOW ELIGIBLE

  • Health care personnel: Paid and unpaid individuals who work in a health care setting with potential for direct exposure to patients and/or infectious materials

Note: SMG is administering the Moderna vaccine, which is indicated for people 18 years and older

  • Long-term Care Facility Residents: Adults who reside in facilities where medical and personal care is provided

Limited Phase 1B: NOW ELIGIBLE

  • Frontline First Responders: Firefighters and Police only
  • Patients 65 years or older
  • Patients 18*-64 years with one or more of the following chronic conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD
    • Down Syndrome
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    • Obesity (BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher)
    • Sickle cell disease
    • 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.

THESE ARE THE ONLY CONDITIONS INCLUDED FOR ELIGIBILITY BY THE STATE.

*SMG is administering the Moderna vaccine, which is indicated for people 18 years and older.

Not yet eligible as part of Phase 1B:

Frontline essential workers:

Educators (teachers, support staff, childcare staff)
Food & Agriculture Manufacturing
Corrections workers
U.S. Postal service workers Public transit workers Grocery store workers

Phase 1C: NOT YET ELIGIBLE

All other essential workers not included in Phase 1A or 1B, including:

  • Transportation and logistics
  • Food service
  • Shelter & Housing (construction)
  • Finance
  • IT & Communication
  • Energy
  • Media
  • Legal
  • Public Safety (Engineers)
  • Water & Wastewater

Phase 2: NOT YET ELIGIBLE

  • All people aged 16 years and older not eligible during Phase 1
    • Note: SMG is using the Moderna vaccine, which is indicated for people 18 years and older.

 

We remain committed to keeping our patients informed about COVID-19 vaccine availability, which is rapidly evolving. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, view our FAQ below, which will be updated as new information becomes available.


COVID-19 VACCINE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Updated February 26, 2021
 

Please visit this page regularly for updates.

Summit Medical Group is committed to safeguarding the health of our patients and team members and stopping the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination is an important step in this process and likely our best hope for ending this pandemic.
 

GENERAL VACCINE INFORMATION

A vaccine provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease – meaning it helps your immune system fight viruses or bacteria. When most people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, the ability for the disease to spread is limited. This is known as herd immunity.

Currently, two COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in the United States. A phased rollout has begun with priority given to health care professionals and residents of long-term care facilities. SMG  is administering the Moderna vaccine which has been approved for those ages 18 and older. See phases noted above.
 

There are hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines in development, but all are designed with the same objective - to trigger the immune systems response of antibodies against the virus.

VACCINE USE AUTHORIZATION

The FDA has given two vaccines Emergency Use Authorization for administration to eligible persons.  This authorization is based on extensive evidence from clinical trials showing both effectiveness and safety of the vaccines. The two vaccines that have received authorization are made by Pfizer and Moderna.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is quick facilitation during a public health emergency. For an EUA to be issued for a vaccine, the FDA must determine that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine. Both vaccines currently available (Pfizer and Moderna) have been authorized for emergency use.

Summit Medical Group has been authorized to administer Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use on December 18.

VACCINE, ELIGIBILITY AND DISTRIBUTION

Access to the available vaccines is driven by public health needs for priority groups, so not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away. Due to potentially limited supply early on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the NJ Department of Health (DOH) have prioritized phases of distribution to various groups:

Phase 1A: (Now Eligible)

  • Health care personnel: Paid and unpaid individuals who work in a health care setting with potential for direct exposure to patients and/or infectious materials
    • Note: SMG is using the Moderna vaccine which is indicated for people 18 years and older
  • Long-term care facility residents: Adults who reside in facilities where medical and personal care is provided

Limited Phase 1B: (Now Eligible)

  • Frontline First Responders: Firefighters and Police only
  • Patients 65 years or older
  • Patients 18-64 years with one or more of the following chronic conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD
    • Down Syndrome
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    • Obesity (BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher)
    • Sickle cell disease
    • 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.

THESE ARE THE ONLY CONDITIONS INCLUDED FOR ELIGIBILITY BY THE STATE.

Not yet eligible as part of Phase 1B:

Frontline essential workers:

  • Educators (teachers, support staff, childcare staff)
  • Food & Agriculture Manufacturing
  • Corrections workers
  • U.S. Postal service workers Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers

Phase 1C: Not Yet Eligible

All other essential workers not included in Phase 1A or 1B, including:

  • Transportation and logistics
  • Food service
  • Shelter & Housing (construction)
  • Finance
  • IT & Communication
  • Energy
  • Media
  • Legal
  • Public Safety (Engineers)
  • Water & Wastewater

Phase 2: Not Yet Eligible

  • All people aged 16 years and older not eligible during Phase 1
    • Note: SMG is using the Moderna vaccine, which is indicated for people 18 years and older.

AT THIS TIME, WE ARE NOT ABLE TO ACCOMMODATE ADDITIONAL VACCINE APPOINTMENT REQUESTS.

If you have already scheduled the vaccine through us, your appointments will be honored. You should have received an email confirmation and portal notification with your scheduled dates and times.

We are working hard to secure more vaccine doses and expect that supplies will increase in the weeks and months ahead. Because supply is so limited, we are asking all patients to follow these guidelines:

  • Please do not call to schedule a vaccination
  • Please do not walk-in to your doctor’s office or a SMG urgent care to schedule a vaccination
  • Please do not send a patient portal message to your doctor to schedule a vaccination


The volume of appointment requests via phone and through our patient portal is limiting our ability to care for patients who need both sick and well visits. Please check back frequently for updates.

Please note: There are other vaccination location options people can consider, including state and local vaccine sites and retail pharmacies listed on the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub.

At this time, all available COVID-19 vaccine appointments have been filled by eligible high-risk patients. As we learn of additional dose allotments (on a week-to-week basis), we will open more appointments. At that time, we will reach out directly to the highest risk and eligible patients as identified through our health records system.

Please refrain from calling SMG at this time to schedule a vaccine appointment. To maximize your chances of receiving the vaccine, we encourage you to sign up on the various registries available.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive timeline as to when more vaccines will become available to our group. This is a universal issue for all vaccination sites, and we are working closely with the state for our week-to-week allotments.

Additionally, phased eligibility is indicated by the NJ Department of Health. Please continue to check the NJ State COVID-19 Vaccine site regularly for more information and updates. 

Please refrain from calling SMG at this time to schedule a vaccine appointment. To maximize your chances of receiving the vaccine, we encourage you to sign up on the various registries available.

Summit Medical Group does not have a waitlist for the vaccine.

Based on the NJ Department of Health’s vaccine eligibility criteria, we have far more eligible patients than we do supply of vaccine doses, and at this time, all available COVID-19 vaccine appointments have been filled by eligible high-risk patients. As we learn of additional dose allotments (on a week-to-week basis), we will open more appointments. At that time, we will reach out directly to the highest risk and eligible patients as identified through our health records system.

Please refrain from calling SMG at this time to schedule a vaccine appointment. To maximize your chances of receiving the vaccine, we encourage you to sign up on the various registries available.

If you have already received your first vaccine with SMG, your second appointment was already scheduled and will be honored. You should have received an email confirmation and portal notification with your scheduled dates and times. If you have not, please reach out to your provider so they can confirm the appointment. If you received your first dose outside of SMG, state protocols require you to go to the same site for the second vaccination. 

Please refrain from calling SMG at this time to schedule a new vaccine appointment.

Our Florham Park Urgent Care Center located at 140 Park Avenue in Florham Park has been converted to a COVID-19 vaccine center. All COVID-19 vaccinations are currently taking place at this location. Regular urgent care services are not being offered at this location until further notice.

As of January 25th, a second vaccine center will open at our Berkeley Heights campus, located at 1 Diamond Hill Road. Due to high demand for appointments, we cannot offer a choice of location.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to get vaccinated right away. We are offering vaccinations according to recommendations and prioritization set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NJ Department of Health (DOH). We expect to expand access to other phases but await further guidance from the DOH. We will update our Coronavirus Updates page as new information becomes available and will continue to communicate eligibility information to patients via email and through our social media channels.

The state has set up a site where you may pre-register for the vaccine. Please note that SMG does not have any further information about pre-registration; questions about pre-registration for the vaccine through the state should be directed to the state.

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, with the second dose administered 28 days after the first.

Each appointment will take approximately 35-45 minutes, including:

  • registration and review of pre-vaccination information
  • Vaccine administration
  • 15-minute observation period after receiving the vaccine

Proof of eligibility will be required (e.g. ID badge or letter from your employer). In addition, please bring a government issued ID such as a driver’s license and your insurance card.

Yes, you will receive an Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet developed by the CDC, and documentation of receipt of vaccination. In addition, you will receive a reminder card for your second vaccine dose to be given 28 days after the first.

In keeping with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, no patient will be charged for the vaccine or its administration. The federal government will provide the vaccine itself, and the health care providers who administer the vaccine will be reimbursed by the patient's insurance. You will still need to present your insurance card at your appointments.

Many people do develop a sore arm, muscle aches and/or fevers, especially after the second dose. OTC Fever reducing and pain relieving medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken for the treatment of post-vaccination symptoms, if medically appropriate.

Since these vaccines are new, we do not know the impact of using OTC pain relievers before vaccination. Therefore, preventive use of these medications prior to vaccination is NOT currently recommended. 

SAFETY AND EFFECTIVENESS

We do not get to choose which vaccine we will receive. All vaccine doses initially available are paid for and distributed by the federal government. Each state receives a certain allotment of doses based on the eligible population of the state. The State Department of Health (DOH), in turn, distributes the vaccine to various provider groups and health systems based on their ability to offer the vaccine to a large number of eligible people. After working closely with us, NJ DOH has recommended allotment of the Moderna vaccine to Summit Medical Group. The Moderna vaccine has shown similar effectiveness to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

The vaccines currently available do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use a piece of genetic material from the virus called messenger RNA (mRNA), surrounded by a protective lipid (oily) shell. When the vaccine is injected into the muscle, it gives the muscle cells instructions on how to make a harmless piece of an S protein, a spike-like structure found on the surface of coronaviruses. Your body’s immune system will recognize that the spike protein doesn't belong, and it will begin building an immune response by making antibodies. 

Shortly after the mRNA has done its job the body will rapidly degrade the proteins and the lipid shell so there is are no vaccine components that remain in your body.

In the future, if your body is exposed to the COVID-19 virus, these antibodies will quickly attack and kill the virus.

Testing for antibodies is not recommended after vaccination.

No.  Because there are no virus particles in the vaccine, it cannot cause infection in your body.

All vaccines must be proven safe and effective in large (phase III) clinical trials designed to identify side effects or other safety concerns before being approved for use. Vaccines must also undergo a series of independent reviews for safety and efficacy. After any vaccine is introduced to the public, health officials closely monitor for any safety concerns. In extensive studies thus far, the Moderna vaccine has been found to be safe and highly effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19—and there have been no major safety concerns related to vaccination. Scientists and medical professionals around the world who have reviewed the evidence support vaccination of all eligible people.

The Moderna vaccine is 94% effective. Studies show that individuals start to develop antibodies about one week after receiving the vaccination. One week after the first dose, you will have a somewhat reduced risk, and after the second vaccine, the risk is reduced by 94%. Since this is a new vaccine, we don’t know how long immunity will last. From current evidence, immunity is likely to last longer than if you get antibodies from infection. We will know in a few months if this will be a seasonal vaccine.

While some new strains of the virus are more contagious, current evidence suggests that getting the vaccine will still protect you from those new strains. In addition to getting the vaccine, you should continue wearing your mask around people who are not members of your household, as well as washing your hands and practicing proper social distancing.

The Moderna vaccine contains no preservatives.

Some recipients did report side effects, usually fever and aches lasting a day or two. Side effects were generally worse after the second dose of the two-dose regimen. Side effects were also more common among persons between 18 and 55 years of age than in those over the age of 55.

You can learn more about the clinical trials by visiting here.

Bell’s palsy is a temporary one-sided facial weakness thought to be caused by inflammation of a nerve in the face. It most commonly occurs after viral infections and resolves in a few weeks in almost all patients.

Three participants who received the vaccine did have Bell’s palsy, but given the size of the population, this is not an unusual number and FDA experts believe it was not likely to be related to the vaccine. The FDA does not exclude people with a history of Bell’s palsy from getting the vaccine.

Given what we know now, the theoretical risks of the new vaccine are by far outweighed by the potential benefits. If you are worried about a possible allergic reaction, we recommend you speak to your health care provider before scheduling your vaccination. Additionally, it would be reasonable to remain at the medical facility where the vaccine is administered for 30 minutes (as opposed to the standard 15) after getting vaccinated. Serious allergic reactions almost always occur within the first 30 minutes. 

Yes. Firstly, you do not gain full effects of the vaccine until about one week after the second vaccine dose, so you must practice all safe habits to protect yourself.

Secondly, we know that getting vaccinate protects you from getting sick. However, the evidence around possibly contracting an asymptomatic infection is not as strong, and therefore we must continue to protect others by abiding by all recommended precautions.

For these reasons, please continue safe habits such as masking at all times around others, avoiding large social gatherings, and practicing distancing.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS, IMMUNE SYSTEM & CIRCUMSTANTIAL INFORMATION

You should weigh the risks of your medical condition with the benefits of reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19. People with conditions that impact the immune system, or who take immunosuppressive medications, are likely to be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. While current data has not specifically addressed this population, the CDC recommends that these individuals may still receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It is possible that these individuals may have a reduced immune response, but still gain some protection. It is best to discuss with your health care provider to make an informed decision. For persons at increased risk for contracting the infection due to their occupation or those who are at increased risk for severe disease, the benefits of the vaccine may outweigh any potential downside.

In early clinical trials for various COVID-19 vaccines, only non-pregnant adults participated. However, clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to participate. Based on data from the expanded clinical trials, groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change in the future. As of now, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is recommended that you discuss the benefits and potential unknown risks of vaccination with your health care provider to determine what’s best for you and your baby. More information will be available from the vaccine manufacturers. Learn more on the CDC page.

There is a lot of vaccine misinformation on the internet and on social media, so we encourage you to use reliable sources such as CDC.gov when learning about the vaccine. There is a false rumor that the antibody produced by the vaccine to fight COVID-19 infection can impact the placenta in the womb. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that the antibody has an impact on fertility, pregnancy, or the ability for the fetus to grow in the womb. 

We know that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Native Americans, and other minority communities. Vaccine trials have made active efforts to include people of all races and ethnicities for testing of safety and effectiveness. Efficacy has been consistent across race, ethnicity, and gender demographics.  Given that Black and Latinx people are at higher risk for severe COVID-19, the benefits may be even greater.

You can still receive the vaccine if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking a blood thinner. It does not exclude you from receiving the vaccine. The vaccine is not associated with serious bleeding risk. It is possible that you experience light bruising and/or light bleeding at the injection site which is a common side effect with any vaccine and generally resolves the same day.

Chronic medical conditions can place people at increased risk for severe COVID-19, compared to individuals without these conditions. Clinical trials have demonstrated similar safety and effectiveness in people with underlying medical conditions.

As of now, the FDA and CDC have not released specific information about contraindications to the Moderna vaccine. The CDC does not disqualify people with a history of allergies to food, medications, pollen, stings, or other substances from getting the vaccine. If you have a history of allergies to specific foods or medications, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the vaccine with your health care provider. Based on your risk factors for developing severe disease if you contract COVID-19, you and your provider can decide whether you should take the vaccine now or wait a little longer.

We will have more information about the Moderna vaccine soon, but the FDA has noted two populations who should not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine:

  • Those who have had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine
  • Those who have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of this vaccine

The Moderna vaccine is likely to have similar contraindications. 

If you are not feeling well, it is recommended that you wait until you are feeling better to get the vaccine. If you have scheduled an appointment to receive the vaccine and are not feeling well on the day of vaccination, it is best to reschedule your appointment. If you have symptoms and/or signs of respiratory infection, evaluation is recommended.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine does not take the place of the pneumonia vaccine or the flu vaccine. We strongly recommend a flu shot for all employees if you have not had one yet. Also discuss whether you need a pneumonia vaccination with your health care provider.

It is not currently recommended to get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day. For now, we are recommending that no other vaccine be taken 14 days before or after the COVID-19 vaccine. It is best to talk to your health care provider about how far apart they should be scheduled.

A child’s immune responses is different from that of an adult. At this point, vaccines have only been fully tested on adults. Trials with children are ongoing and pending results.

PREVIOUS INFECTION AND ANTIBODIES

People who have had the infection or positive antibodies can still get the vaccine. Results of antibody testing should not be used for the purpose of vaccine decision-making, and the CDC does not recommend testing for infection before vaccination. Individuals with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days can get the vaccine if their symptoms have resolved and they have completed their isolation period.  Since reinfection seems to be uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection, individuals may defer vaccination until the end of this period, if desired.

For now, it is recommended that if you have received monoclonal antibody or plasma for treatment of COVID-19, you should wait 90 days before receiving the vaccine. This recommendation is based on known half-life (how long antibodies last in the body after they are infused though an IV) of such treatments. It is likely that if you received these, you have some protection for three months and the delay will help ensure the vaccine leads to a strong immune response.

This is not a live vaccine so there is no risk of viral shedding, which is when a virus replicates inside your body. You do not need to practice any special infection control processes after vaccination. However, you should continue to practice all the usual safety guidelines, including wearing a mask and social distancing.

Infection control protocols will likely continue throughout the country until a significant portion of the population has been vaccinated (70%+). We may be wearing masks and distancing for a large portion of 2021.

Whether vaccinated or not, everyone should still be following CDC guidelines which include:

  • Staying home if not feeling well
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Wearing a mask
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing

COVID-19 TESTING

Asymptomatic patients who have an established SMG provider may call (908) 273-4300 M-F between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to schedule an appointment to be tested. If you need assistance on the weekend, our Nurse Triage Line (option 1) will be available for scheduling.

Asymptomatic patients who do not have an established SMG provider may go to one of our CityMD sites for evaluation and testing.

Please note: If you have had close contact with a known COVID-19 positive person:

  • It takes time after exposure to turn positive. Getting a test within the first few days of exposure is of limited value as it takes time for the test to convert.
  • Anyone who has had close contact should isolate in their home for 14 days per the New Jersey Department of Health even if their test is negative.

View other NJ Testing Options here. To learn more about different tests, SMG testing locations, and what results mean, please visit our COVID-19 Testing Information page. 

To learn more about the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccination,
visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.