Additional NJ residents search for COVID-19 vaccine as Shoprite, pharmacies say their schedules are full

If you qualify right now, you still have to pre-register to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- As of Thursday, people age 65 and up and those 16 and older with medical conditions can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey, but the expanded eligibility doesn't mean it'll be easy to find a vaccine.

Glen Howard, a 63-year-old Marlton, New Jersey resident with high-risk health conditions, stopped by his neighborhood ShopRite supermarket hoping to get a vaccine, only to be told that the pharmacy had no availability.

"I thought I could come get a shot here," Howard said. "All of a sudden, they have a list that's longer than my arm."

ShopRite posted on its website that it is not currently scheduling any more COVID-19 vaccinations due to a full appointment schedule.

The message on the ShopRite's vaccination website reads, "Due to overwhelming demand, our COVID-19 Vaccine appointment schedule is FULL - there are currently no new appointments available. Please check back at a later date. We are working hard to secure additional vaccine and open appointment availability. We are sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience."

Boyd's Pharmacy in Marlton is also booked solid.

"We're booked up until the end of February, and that's pending getting sufficient vaccines to take care of those people," said pharmacist Marvin Wainwright.

His pharmacy received more than 100 calls Wednesday night alone after the news broke that group 1B is now eligible for a vaccine in the state of New Jersey.

SEE ALSO: New Jersey expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations
EMBED More News Videos

New Jersey is expanding the eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday.



Wainwright urges people to try to make their appointments through the state's website.

"Help us help you and try not to call the local pharmacy because not only are we trying to do the vaccines, but we're trying to take care of patients' normal prescription needs," Wainwright said, adding that he and a colleague often come in on their day off in order to help meet the vaccine demand.

At the mega-site at Rowan College in Gloucester County, some people were able to get their first shot.

"I'm over 65 and I think they just changed the requirements and I was able to get in with no issues," said Bob Watts of Mantua.

"It was very organized, very well organized. We were impressed," said Cathy Watts, who says she has high-risk conditions.

For many people, receiving their COVID-19 vaccine is emotional.

"I want to be able to see my family. I have a grandmom who has cancer. I don't want to be scared to go see her," said Debbie Butcher with tears in her eyes.

New Jersey has administered about 264,000 doses of the vaccine.

"We were seeing the desire for pods to open up to access a broader community for vaccinations," said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

But some residents are experiencing frustration with the online registration process.

"I don't have a computer," said Janis Moniot of Browns Mills, Burlington County. "And I don't have a phone that has a computer. So I can't get anything that way."

Murphy added that the federal government's decision not to hold back doses of the vaccine also influenced the decision.

People age 65 and over and people ages 16 to 64 with medical conditions in New Jersey had previously been classified in group 1C. They are now part of group 1B.

First responders are also part of group 1B.

Health care workers are part of group 1A.

The state's website lists eligible medical conditions for people age 16-64 under group 1B as follows:

- Cancer
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease
- Smoking
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Those wishing to make appointments can access information for New Jersey vaccination sites here.

Just two of the six mega-sites run in partnership with the state are currently open: Rowan College of South Jersey in Sewell, and Rockaway Townsquare in Morris County. These mega-sites are expected to vaccinate up to 2,400 people per day.

Officials with Virtua Health expect the mega-site at the Moorestown Mall to open to the public sometime next week, in partnership with Burlington County and the state, stressing it will be by appointment only.

State officials have said their goal is to open all six mega-sites by the end of January.

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania is also expanding its vaccine rollout. The county has administered about 6,500 doses of the 10,000 doses it received from the federal government.

"I am so encouraged by the enthusiasm that so many people have to be vaccinated," said Dr. Val Arkoosh, Montgomery County Health Commissioner.



Those in Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C include frontline essential workers, people age 65 and over and people age 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions. Montgomery County list those medical conditions as follows:

- Cancer
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2)
- Pregnancy
- Sickle cell disease
- Smoking
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
To pre-register for the vaccine in Montgomery County, click this link.

SEE ALSO: US asking states to vaccinate everyone older than 65; not hold back 2nd dose
EMBED More News Videos

George Stephanopolous interviews Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar about distribution of the COVID vaccine.

Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.