By ERIN ROLL
As COVID-19 vaccines begin to make their way to the Garden State, all New Jersey residents will now be automatically enrolled in the state’s immunization tracking system.
The registry, which tracks all vaccinations in the state, will change from opt-in to opt-out program. The order, signed on Dec. 4, means that every resident is automatically enrolled in the New Jersey Immunization Information System in order to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
The move will streamline the COVOID-19 vaccination process, Gov. Phil Murphy said. Full state enrollment will help health officials track how many people receive the vaccine, and ensure recipients get the required second dose from the correct vaccine and people don’t accidentally get duplicate vaccines.
Residents not wanting the vaccine or who want to opt out of the system can do so 30 days after the public health emergency declaration ends. Residents will have to submit a written request to opt out of the NJIIS.
“As we continue to prepare for the first tranche of vaccines in New Jersey, we are exploring every avenue to maximize efficacy and efficiency,” Murphy said. “We’re taking this step today to ensure that New Jerseyans who choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine get the most effective course, on the proper timetable, without logistical or bureaucratic hurdles in the way.”
The NJIIS was created in 1997, in order to help track how many children received their childhood vaccines, and how many vaccines were being administered in a specific geographic area.
People born before Jan. 1, 1998 have had the option of opting into the system, while people born after that date are automatically enrolled when they are born, and their birth certificates are filed, unless their parents or legal guardians submitted a formal request to have them opted out.
A vaccine registry is also used to compile vaccination records for children who may have seen more than one doctor or medical provider.
“Accurate accounting of every dose of vaccine is vital to monitoring implementation progress of New Jersey’s vaccination plan,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “The system will also allow us to ensure residents are returning for the second dose of vaccine.”
New Jersey is expected to start receiving its first batch of vaccines, starting with the vaccine created by Pfizer, this month, with officials hoping for the first batch within the next week. A second vaccine created by Moderna is expected to arrive shortly thereafter. Both of those vaccines are two-dose vaccines.
“Though many vaccines are currently under development, the first vaccines that are anticipated to arrive in the state would require two doses to be effective, necessitating a mechanism to track individuals who have received the first dose to ensure they also receive the required second dose of the same vaccine type,” the order states.
The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of the state’s adults over the next six months, starting with health care workers, and continuing through other vulnerable populations, before opening up the vaccine to the general public.