Friends and Colleagues,
Late yesterday, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) issued an e-mail to all licensed health care professionals in the state informing them that they were included in Phase 1A of the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout. New Jersey certified and licensed social workers (CSW, LSW, LCSW) were included in this notification.
The communication from DCA confirms that licensed social workers in our state (CSW, LSW, LCSW) who wish to receive the vaccine at this time (Phase 1A) are able to do so. In addition to social workers who possess a state certification or license, social workers and social work students/interns who are not licensed who work in a health care setting, long-term care facility, and other locations where they are at high-risk to exposure to the virus are also eligible for vaccination at this time.
You can read the full memo from the Division of Consumer Affairs here.
Additional information about vaccine rollout can be found through the following New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) communications. Please take the time to review these important messages:
Letter from New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli
Phase 1A Factsheet
List of current New Jersey Vaccine Sites (subject to change)
Social workers who are employed in a hospital/health care facility or long-term care setting should check with their employers to learn how vaccinations will be distributed to staff at these facilities.
Social workers who work in solo and group practices, including those practitioners who maintain home offices, should now or shortly be able to schedule vaccinations for themselves at one of the locations listed in the New Jersey Vaccine sites list (item 3 above). As per the above letter from DOH Commissioner Persichilli:
"During early 2021, New Jersey will launch its statewide vaccine
scheduling system, the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS),
to help all potential Phase lA vaccine recipients to identify nearby
points of dispensing sites (PODs) and schedule an appointment.
[You will receive] a follow-up email with more information on
this vaccine scheduling system in the next 1-2 weeks."
Please remember that vaccination rollout is a developing process and there may be some bumps in the process as the state continues to refine and expand this process. Please also remember that at this time there is a limited supply of vaccine in our state and efforts are being made to prioritize distribution during Phase 1A so those most at risk of exposure to the virus and those most at risk for severe reaction to the virus receive this first batch of vaccines.
Social workers should use their best professional judgement and assess their current personal and professional circumstances to determine whether seeking vaccination at this time is an appropriate course of action. Those social workers who are not in a high-risk category (health, age) and who are able to continue their work remotely/without in-person client contact may wish to consider delaying vaccination until a larger supply of vaccine becomes available in our state and we move into Phase 1B rollout and beyond.
We will continue to remain in contact with the DOH and other state entities to ensure social workers have the most current information on vaccinations for yourselves and your clients. We are also in communication with national experts on social work ethics and are in the process of planning a webinar for early in the new year to discuss early stage vaccine rollout and the ethical implications social workers should consider prior to receiving the vaccine during the early stages of rollout.
Thank you for your dedication and commitment to your clients and to our profession as we navigate this developing situation. We will provide additional updates and information as they become available.
Wishing you a safe, happy, and healthy new year,