NJ makes vaccinations available at pharmacies, but demand far exceeds supply

New Jersey

UNION CITY, NJ — On Thursday, New Jersey residents were able to begin signing up for coronavirus vaccine appointments at some CVS and Rite Aid stores in the state.

Appointments filled up almost immediately, leaving many in the Garden State frustrated, yet again. Still, some people who are hoping to get vaccinated at their nearby pharmacies said they haven’t given up.

Ana Montano lives a short walk away from her CVS on Bergenline Avenue in Union City. When she learned that her neighborhood store was on the list of locations set to receive dosages from the federal government and administer them locally, her face lit up.

“Cross my fingers,” she said, “so they are doing it here, and I can get an appointment.”

Hard numbers indicate that she may need all the luck she can get.

CVS is receiving 19,900 doses from the federal government, and Rite Aid is receiving 7,500. The vaccine shipments are scheduled to arrive Thursday evening, or Friday morning, and they’ll start to be administered on Friday, statewide.

The demand very clearly outstrips supply. At both websites where people can book an appointment — CVS’s own site for its appointments, and the state COVID information site for Rite Aid appointments — available slots were fully booked, within minutes.

Montano said that she was well aware of that. Still, she said, she’d gone into the CVS just down the street from her home, and talked with staff members about the prospect of getting a vaccine in the store. She said that the conversation gave her a glimmer of hope.

“That’s all you can do is keep trying, and trying,” Montano said, “because there’s so much people trying to get the vaccine, so you’ve gotta keep trying until you get it.”

New Jersey had also made an agreement, shortly after the vaccines were first approved, to have CVS and Walgreens vaccinate most of the state’s nursing home population and employees. Governor Phil Murphy has expressed frustration with how slowly that vaccination process has gone.

However, some people trying to get vaccinated now are hopeful that the situation involving pharmacy vaccinations has improved.

“At this moment,” said Yocasta Marie, a Union City resident hoping to get an appointment soon, “we’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt. You know, we’ve got to see what happens.”

State health authorities had said that Walgreens in particular had underperformed in the nursing home vaccinations. It’s not included in the new effort. It’s being handled by CVS and Rite Aid only.

Walgreens has not yet responded to a request from PIX11 News for comment.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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