What does the COVID-19 vaccine look like for teens in NJ?

Gov. Murphy’s expansion of vaccines throughout the state could mean teens are not far off

Derek Derienzo, News Writer

The COVID-19 vaccine, more notably depicted as “the shot being distributed across the United States to citizens by the millions,” remains the elephant in the room when it comes to discussion on COVID-19 relief. It is known that elderly citizens are most susceptible to the virus, and that the virus has been proven to be increasingly fatal towards people with underlying health conditions as well. Therefore, these groups of people are near the top of the priority list when it comes down to who is eligible for the shot as soon as possible. However, an idea that is not touched on as often in conversation is the possibility of teens obtaining the vaccine. 

Governor Phil Murphy announced that eligibility of the vaccine will be dramatically expanded to more groups of people in the state of N.J. as of March 15. These groups include: pre-K through 12th grade educators and support staff, licensed childcare workers, public and local transportation workers, public safety officers (does not include law enforcement or fire-fighters), migrant farm workers, members of tribal communities and individuals experiencing homelessness or living in shelter, including domestic violence shelters. 

Furthermore, Murphy released that the state is preparing for another wave of expansion come March 29, which will then officially stretch as far as restaurant workers, food processing and distributing industries, grocery personnel, warehouse workers, clergy, election workers, hospitality workers, postal and shipping workers and the remaining elderly caretakers. 

When merged, the expansion would cover millions more residents in New Jersey. Many teens in N.J. have occupations that will soon be covered by these changes to eligibility, therefore enabling them to receive the shot in the near future. 

“I’m able to take the shot since I work at the Mt. Holly ACME, and I do just about everything there: taking out trash, being on register, filling out online orders, stocking grocery shelves, you name it,” said junior Ian Mastin. “My first shot is on the [March] 25th at the Moorestown Megasite, and I’d imagine it would be the Pfizer vaccine; I plan to take both shots.” 

However, some teenagers have already been receiving the shot because of their current employment.

Hailey Timmons is a senior at RV who works part-time delivering meals throughout the retirement home Medford Leas and has received both doses of the Pfizer vaccination. 

“We are high risk,” Timmons said. “We are not super in-contact with the elderly… I am delivering outside their door, but we are still in contact with them sometimes so it [the vaccine] was offered to us so everyone could feel more safe.” Hundreds, if not thousands of teens across N.J. have jobs similar to that of Timmons and have already begun to receive their vaccine. 

There is no one-hundred percent certain date when all teens will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination in New Jersey, but efforts to vaccinate teens who live with people who would be categorized as high-risk or those who work in similar ‘high-risk’ environments such as Timmons or Mastin are, perhaps, in the works. There are also teens who apply for or are offered the shot because without it they would feel generally unsafe in a social climate such as school or in public. Furthermore, it is not clear whether it will be a requirement for teens in the future. For now, in N.J., the majority of teens have to wait their turn in terms of the COVID-19 vaccination and are lower on the priority list.