In Our Community

MOSQUERA BILL ESTABLISHING REQUIREMENTS REGARDING PROVISION OF POSTPARTUM CARE INFORMATION

To help New Jersey mothers prepare for their post-labor needs, Assemblywomen Gabriela Mosquera, Lisa Swain and Carol Murphy sponsor a bill to require health care professionals to discuss postpartum planning with expecting mothers and require medical facilities to provide new mothers with information on postpartum care.

Under the bill (A-3633), health care professionals such as physicians, nurses and midwives would be required to make certain pregnant patients have the opportunity to develop a comprehensive, personalized postpartum care plan. If the patient does not already have a plan, the provider would offer to consult with them to help develop one.

The measure also requires medical facilities such as hospitals and birthing centers to ensure that new mothers receive postpartum care information before they are discharged after childbirth. The women would be informed about potential health issues that can take place after labor and the risks, warning signs and symptoms of those potential complications.

Upon the Assembly Women and Children Committee advancing the legislation on Monday, Assemblywomen Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester), Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Murphy (D-Burlington) issued the following joint statement:

 

“Childbirth is a complex and challenging process that can continue to impact mothers long after they have brought a new baby into the world.

“Many women don’t realize all that pregnancy can entail, especially if they have never had a child before. Unfortunately, their health care providers don’t always tell them what to expect either – leaving them without the information they need regarding potential complications and what to do if they arise.

“Requiring professionals to discuss postpartum plans with their patients and hospitals to give new mothers information about postpartum care will better prepare women to deal with some of the issues they may face as they enter an exciting but challenging new time in their lives.”

MOSQUERA INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO ALLOW CERTAIN VOTERS RESIDING OVERSEAS TO VOTE IN STATE ELECTIONS

Currently, any citizen of the United States who is overseas with uncertain intent to return to America is permitted to vote in federal elections in New Jersey via overseas ballot.   Assembly Democrats Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) and Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester) introduced legislation Monday to change the definition of “overseas voter”.
Under the bill A-5306, the term would now apply to any citizen of the United States who was born outside of the country and meets voter eligibility requirements.  A citizen would be allowed to vote in federal elections if they have a parent, legal guardian, spouse, partner in a civil union, or domestic partner eligible to register and vote in the U.S. before departure.
The bill would also remove temporary residence abroad from the definition of “overseas voter”.  This would allow any person who meets the criteria and is only overseas temporarily to vote by mail-in ballot in their previous election district and they would be able to vote in any federal, state, or local elections.
People who do not live in the United States due to work or other short-term reasons are still important to the identity of our country and State.  They should have a vote in the communities to which they may return.

Indoor Dining Capacity Increased, Hours Extended

The Governor is signing an executive order to increase indoor capacities in certain businesses from 25 percent to 35 percent, effective 8 a.m. this Friday, February 5th.

  • He is confident in signing the order due to the declining rate of transmission and hospital numbers.
    • For example, on Jan. 13 we reported 3,726 confirmed cases in hospitals. Today, we’re reporting a decrease of 20 percent from that number.
    • While some numbers are still high, we believe we can make this expansion without increasing stress on our healthcare system.
  • Restaurants can expand to 35 percent of capacity, up from 25 percent.
    • We’ve never reduced indoor capacity, contrary to other states, and now are in a position where we can expand.
  • The Governor is lifting the statewide requirement that indoor restaurant service must end at 10 p.m. However, municipalities or counties may continue to regulate hours of in-person service after 8 p.m, as they’ve been permitted to do since November.
    • This approach gives local officials the ability to respond to unique situations of noncompliance.
  • The prohibition on seating at indoor bar areas will remain in effect, as it creates dangerous close and prolonged proximity.
  • Gyms, casinos, performance venues and personal care businesses may also accommodate 35 percent capacity.
  • Indoor gatherings like religious services, weddings, political activities, memorial services, or funerals can also accommodate 35 percent capacity but no more than 150 total individuals.

MADDEN BILL TO AVERT BIG UI HIKES FOR EMPLOYERS IMPACTED BY COVID-19 SIGNED INTO LAW

Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden and Senate President Steve Sweeney that will save New Jersey employers hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic from high Unemployment Insurance (UI) cost increases was signed into law.

“Due to a loss of revenue, COVID-19 has forced many small businesses to lay off or furlough dedicated employees in an effort to stay in business,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden/Gloucester), chair of the Senate Labor Committee. “These layoffs were not wanted by any employer and, as a result, they should not be punished with paying the cost for Unemployment Insurance claims.”

“Many New Jersey businesses are struggling right now and we cannot allow them to be further penalized by a rise in Unemployment Insurance costs when layoffs were the only option for them to save their business,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “This law will be influential in preventing further economic damage to our businesses and communities.”

The law, S-3011, will provide relief by excluding the cost of UI claims paid by businesses as a result of COVID-19 from their payroll tax calculations.

Thanks to a constitutional amendment and other reforms pushed by Senate President Sweeney after the financial crisis of 2007-2009 that put an end to raids on the UI Trust Fund, the fund began the 2020 calendar year with a healthy surplus, showing a balance of $2.4 billion as late as March. However, nearly 1.6 million New Jersey workers applied for Unemployment Insurance benefits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving nearly $15 billion in combined federal and state UI benefits and wiping out the entire $2.4 billion balance.

As a result, New Jersey applied for federal loans to shore up the fund and employer’s tax rates are set to spike next year. Because of the experience rating calculation, that increase in UI payroll tax rates would fall heaviest on the employers hardest hit by COVID-19, including restaurants, gyms, retailers and other businesses that had to lay off huge swaths of their workforce due to statewide business closures and social distancing measures.

The Madden-Sweeney law will prevent experience rating increases for employers who had to carry out layoffs through no fault of their own, spreading the burden across all employers to lessen the impact. The law will also phase in tax increases due to the statewide fund’s depletion over three years. A similar phase-in was provided after the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

NJ COVID-19 Vaccine Page

Vaccines work by triggering a person’s immune system to develop protection against a disease.

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection.

Both of the vaccines that have received an FDA Emergency Use Authorization to date are messenger RNA vaccines (mRNA). Unlike many other vaccines which put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies, mRNA vaccines when injected instruct our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

This is the first time that mRNA vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization or been distributed to the public, but researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. Interest has grown in these vaccines because they can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This means the process can be standardized and scaled up, making vaccine development and production faster than traditional methods of making vaccines.

As soon as the necessary information about the virus that causes COVID-19 was available, scientists began designing the mRNA vaccine for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine.

For more of how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work, visit this CDC page. Additional information on other COVID-19 vaccines that are or soon will be undergoing large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials in the United States can be found here.

What to Know About Available COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized for use have gone through clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants to determine their safety and efficacy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued Emergency Use Authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna vaccines.

For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, please consult these FDA fact sheets:

For the Moderna vaccine, please consult these FDA fact sheets:

Both vaccines are given as an injection into the muscle and as a series of two shots. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is two doses given 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccine is two doses given 28 days apart.

COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests. Vaccines won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated. At this time, experts do not know how long until someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection (natural immunity) varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggest natural immunity may not last very long. Although there is no minimal interval between infection and vaccination, current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection, and thus persons with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days may defer vaccination until the end of this period, if desired.

Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an immune response without having to experience sickness.

Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA. mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA).

Sources: NJ DOH COVID-19 Vaccine FAQsNJ DOH COVID-19 Vaccines – Know the FactsCDChttps://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/Public_FAQ.pdf

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective? How were they tested and approved?

Last Updated: 12/29/2020

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COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized for use have gone through clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants to determine their safety and efficacy.

The known and potential benefits of approved vaccines outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for two COVID-19 vaccines which have been shown to be safe and effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from clinical trials.

More information from the FDA about these two vaccines can be found here:

For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, please consult these FDA fact sheets:

For the Moderna vaccine, please consult these FDA fact sheets:

Clinical Trials
Several vaccines are in Phase 3 clinical trials and the FDA has issued EUAs for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and for the Moderna vaccine. For more details on the vaccine approval process, refer to this infographic and this fact sheet.

Clinical trials are research studies performed in people that are aimed at evaluating a medical, surgical, or behavioral intervention. They are the primary way that researchers find out if a new treatment, like a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective in people.

Currently, clinical trials are evaluating COVID-19 vaccines in many thousands of study participants to generate scientific data and other information for the FDA to determine their safety and efficacy. These clinical trials are being conducted according to rigorous safety standards. For detailed information, visit this CDC page.

Side Effects
After receiving an injection of a COVID-19 vaccine, you will be observed for 15 minutes by healthcare staff to monitor any side effects. Observation may be longer (30 minutes) if you have a history of anaphylaxis.

Like many vaccines, a COVID-19 vaccine may cause some temporary discomfort. In addition to a sore arm, side effects of the vaccines may include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, feeling unwell, and swollen lymph nodes.

There is a small chance that vaccines could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour, which is why all individuals should be observed for at least 15 minutes after vaccination and 30 minutes if they have a history of a severe allergic reaction due to any cause.
COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

Source: https://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/Public_FAQ.pdfhttps:/www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.htm

How will New Jersey distribute a COVID-19 vaccine? Is there a plan?

Last Updated: 12/30/2020

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New Jersey will roll out COVID-19 vaccines step-by-step to serve all adults who live, work, or are being educated in the state. While the State’s current plan is highlighted below, the plan will continually be updated in response to the changing circumstances of the pandemic.

New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination program aims to:

  • Provide equitable access to all who live, work, and/or are educated in New Jersey
  • Achieve community protection, assuming vaccine effectiveness, availability, and uptake
  • Build sustainable trust in COVID-19 and other vaccines

The State’s goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population – or 4.7 million adults – within six months.

Vaccination Phases

Currently, vaccines are available to those who are in Phase 1A which includes paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials as well as residents and staff of long-term congregate settings.

Once vaccine availability expands, vaccination will advance to Phase 1B, then Phase 1C, and then Phase 2.

Currently, Phase 1B of vaccination will include frontline essential workers and individuals over 75; Phase 1C will include other essential workers, adults 65-74, and persons aged 16-64 with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19.

Following these phases, the general public (Phase 2) will be eligible for vaccination.

For more information about the phased approach and priority groups, refer to this Health Department document.

Vaccine Distribution

New Jersey was awarded over 400,000 vaccines in the month of December. Of that, approximately 120,000 doses have been reserved for long-term care facilities and 280,000 doses have been allocated to hospitals and community sites.

New Jersey was awarded an additional 106,000 for the first week of January. Of that, approximately 53,000 doses have been reserved for long-term care facilities with another 53,000 being allocated to hospitals and community sites.

Vaccinations began on December 15th in New Jersey hospitals for paid and unpaid persons serving in their health facilities.

New Jersey is partnering with Rite Aid to provide vaccinations to home care and hospice staff. Information about scheduling appointments is being provided through home health agencies and their industry associations.

As of December 30, through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program with CVS and Walgreens, New Jersey has over 500 long-term care facilities scheduled – including the State’s three veterans memorial homes – and over 100,000 residents and staff slated to receive vaccinations through the beginning of February 2021. Additional sites will be added in the coming weeks.

After nursing home residents and staff are vaccinated, CVS and Walgreens will begin to vaccinate thousands of residents and staff in other congregate settings including Assisted Living facilities, the five state developmental centers, federal housing for seniors and group homes and other long-term residential facilities. New Jersey also has a network of community vaccination sites for vulnerable residents who live in congregate settings not eligible for this federal partnership.

New Jersey is also developing an extensive network of vaccination sites to serve those currently eligible for vaccination. By early January, the vaccination sites network will include acute care hospitals, large state-coordinated mega sites, county/local sites, retail pharmacies and other medical locations. At this time, New Jersey cannot arrange for all groups to receive distributions directly, so vaccine recipients may need to go off-site to be vaccinated.

Six mega sites throughout New Jersey will serve as vaccination hubs for phased priority groups, part of a critical network of over 200 sites tasked with carrying out the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan fairly and equitably:

  • Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center
  • Bergen County: Racetrack at Meadowlands, East Rutherford
  • Burlington County: Moorestown Mall
  • Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey, Sewell
  • Middlesex County: New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison
  • Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare

The six state-coordinated sites are expected to begin opening in early January and will immediately be in position to vaccinate front-line healthcare workers and then continue in a phased approach depending on the supply of vaccine to New Jersey. After these phases are complete, then the general public will be eligible for vaccination. The timing of the progression among the groups depends on the supply of vaccine to the state balanced by the demand in various phases.

Scheduling A Vaccination

New Jersey will launch a statewide vaccine scheduling system to help consumers connect with identified nearby points of dispensing sites. This online portal will enable the various groups in the initial phases and eventually the general public to register and then find a vaccination site, pre-register, and schedule an appointment. Some vaccination sites may offer walk-up/on-site registration as well when doses are more readily available

Vaccination Data

Executive Order No. 207 changes inclusion into the New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS) from an opt-in to an opt-out program for any resident who chooses to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. This means that individuals who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to first opt-in to the system to make sure that their two-dose regimen is properly tracked and managed. 30 days after the current public health emergency ends, individuals who enrolled due to the COVID-19 vaccine will be afforded the opportunity to withdraw from the system. The Executive Order does not force anyone to receive the vaccine.

NJIIS will securely store the vaccine recipient’s name, address, date of birth, race, ethnicity, and gender. These are standard data elements that have been used across vaccines administered in New Jersey. These will be requested during pre-registration and/or on-site. Information about the vaccine provider, substance, and administration will be collected from the POD personnel.

There are other data that New Jerseyans may be asked and that will not be stored in NJIIS. Depending on the POD and its scheduling process, New Jerseyans can also expect to provide additional demographic and occupational data to ensure equitable and efficient scheduling of vaccinations. These data points will be informed by ACIP recommendations about prioritization (e.g. Phase 1A will include healthcare personnel).

Finally, medical screening questions will be asked to assess eligibility under the EUA and ACIP recommendations specific to the vaccine product offered at the point of dispensing.

All data collected can only be used for public health purposes, like ensuring that the same person returns for a second dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine at the right time interval. Data cannot be used for civil or criminal enforcement and cannot be used for immigration enforcement.

For more information about NJIIS, refer to NJ DOH’s Keeping Track of COVID-19 Vaccine through NJIIS document.

The Department is finalizing a public dashboard which will show doses administered and some demographic information. Data will be updated weekly and refined over time.

Source: COVID-19 BriefingsDOH COVID-19 Vaccination PageDOH Health Commissioner Persichilli’s Remarks 12/28/20

Where, how, and when can I get vaccinated?

Last Updated: 12/29/2020

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Currently, vaccines are available to those who are in Phase 1A which includes paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials as well as residents and staff of long-term congregate settings.

Once vaccine availability expands, vaccination will advance to Phase 1B, then Phase 1C, and then Phase 2.

Currently, Phase 1B of vaccination will include frontline essential workers and individuals over 75; Phase 1C will include other essential workers, adults 65-74, and persons aged 16-64 with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19.

Following these phases, the general public (Phase 2) will be eligible for vaccination.

For more information about the phased approach and priority groups, refer to this Health Department document.

Scheduling A Vaccination

Coming Soon: New Jersey will launch a statewide vaccine scheduling system to help consumers connect with identified nearby points of dispensing sites. This online portal will enable the various groups in the initial phases and eventually the general public to find a vaccination site, pre-register, and schedule an appointment. Some vaccination sites may offer walk-up/on-site registration as well when doses are more readily available.

Currently, Phase 1A individuals can get vaccinated by making an appointment at one of the designated sites found on this page.

Note: All sites in New Jersey are currently only serving people who are part of Phase 1A. No professional or medical documentation is required.

Even if you are a healthcare worker or long-term care resident in Phase 1A, an appointment may not be available to you in the first weeks of the vaccination campaign due to significantly limited vaccine availability. NJDOH hopes to be able to serve all healthcare workers who wish to be vaccinated by the end of January 2021, pending vaccine availability.

Vaccination Locations

New Jersey is developing an extensive network of vaccination sites to serve those currently eligible for vaccination. By early January, the vaccination sites network will include acute care hospitals, large state-coordinated mega sites, county/local sites, retail pharmacies and other medical locations. At this time, New Jersey cannot arrange for all groups to receive distributions directly, so vaccine recipients may need to go off-site to be vaccinated.

For example, during Phase 1A, hospital workers and volunteers have an opportunity to receive the vaccine at the hospital where they work or volunteer. All other healthcare workers and volunteers, including those outside of hospitals and long-term care, will be able to receive the vaccine through other vaccination sites at pharmacies, urgent care centers, federally qualified health centers, hospitals, local health departments, other state- and county-run sites, and other medical clinics.

Six mega sites throughout New Jersey will serve as vaccination hubs for phased priority groups, part of a critical network of over 200 sites tasked with carrying out the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan fairly and equitably:

  • Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center
  • Bergen County: Racetrack at Meadowlands, East Rutherford
  • Burlington County: Moorestown Mall
  • Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey, Sewell
  • Middlesex County: New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison
  • Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare

The six state-coordinated sites are expected to begin opening in early January and will immediately be in position to vaccinate front-line healthcare workers and then continue in a phased approach depending on the supply of vaccine to New Jersey. After these phases are complete, then the general public will be eligible for vaccination. The timing of the progression among the groups depends on the supply of vaccine to the state.

Vaccinations began on December 15th in New Jersey hospitals for paid and unpaid persons serving in their health facilities.

New Jersey is partnering with Rite Aid to provide vaccinations to home care and hospice staff. Information about scheduling appointments is being provided through home health agencies and their industry associations.

As of December 30, through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program with CVS and Walgreens, New Jersey has over 500 long-term care facilities scheduled – including the State’s three veterans memorial homes – and over 100,000 residents and staff slated to receive vaccinations through the beginning of February 2021. Additional sites will be added in the coming weeks.

After nursing home residents and staff are vaccinated, CVS and Walgreens will begin to vaccinate thousands of residents and staff in other congregate settings including Assisted Living facilities, the five state developmental centers, federal housing for seniors and group homes and other long-term residential facilities. New Jersey also has a network of community vaccination sites for vulnerable residents who live in congregate settings not eligible for this federal partnership.

Senior Freeze Property Tax Reimbursement Application Extended – February 1,2021

New Jersey’s Senior Freeze program reimburses eligible senior citizens and disabled individuals for increases in property taxes or mobile home park site fees on their principal residence. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented ongoing challenges in obtaining the paperwork needed from local governments in order to complete the application, prompting Treasury’s Division of Taxation to extend the deadline for a second time. In October, Treasury initially announced that the deadline was being extended from November 2, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

“We have heard from concerned residents that obtaining the required documentation in time has been a challenge due to the pandemic,” said Treasurer Muoio. “That means there may be many eligible seniors who have not taken advantage of the Senior Freeze this year. We want to make sure, now more than ever, that eligible taxpayers have access to this vital resource.”

The Senior Freeze program is designed to “freeze” the burden of increasing real estate taxes for qualified applicants by establishing a base year of eligibility and comparing that base with any subsequent year. The difference is then refunded by the State annually. In order to qualify for the reimbursement, taxpayers must meet all the eligibility requirements for each year from the base year through the current application year. Eligibility must be continuous otherwise a new base year must be established.

Applications for the current 2019 Senior Freeze were mailed in February to the last address taxpayers filed with. Anyone who did not receive a booklet should contact the New Jersey Division of Taxation’s Senior Freeze Property Tax Reimbursement Information Line for assistance at 1-800-882-6597 (The U.S. Postal Service does not forward application booklets).

The Division of Taxation began issuing payments on October 15 and will continue to do so on an ongoing basis as applications are received. Applicants can check the status/amount of their Senior Freeze reimbursement for 2017, 2018, and 2019 online.

Other pertinent information on the Senior Freeze program can also be found online: