Now that all adults, along with children ages 5 and up, are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledge that the risks of gathering during this holiday season are generally lower. While nothing is 100 percent, if you are celebrating the holidays with vaccinated family members, you should feel safe, according to the National Institute of Health’s Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“We all are anxious to get back to doing more things that we enjoy,” added Mr. Hughes. “To make that possible, it’s important that we continue to do what we can to protect ourselves and those around us. COVID-19 vaccines have been proved to be safe and highly effective at preventing serious illness, and I strongly encourage everyone who is eligible for a booster to get one as soon as possible.”

  • If you had the Pfizer shot, you can receive a booster dose 6 months after your second dose if you are 16 or older
  • If you had the Moderna shot, you can receive a booster dose 6 months after your second dose if you are 18 or older
  • If you had the J&J shot, you can receive the booster dose 2 months after your single dose

Mr. Hughes reminds County residents that anyone 14 years or older, and anyone employed as a first responder or health care worker in Mercer, can sign up to receive a free COVID-19 saliva test to be administered at home through a partnership between the County and Vault Health Services of New Jersey.

The saliva collection test for COVID-19 has the same effectiveness as the nasal swab test. It is not an antibody test, but rather is designed to determine if an individual is currently infected with COVID-19 and has the potential to infect others. This test is performed under the supervision of a Vault healthcare provider through a video telehealth visit, eliminating the risk of person-to-person exposure to the virus.

Individuals seeking a test should visit www.mercercares.org to register. You will be required to provide proof of residency or employment. After your eligibility is verified, you will receive a digital link to Vault’s webpage to request a county-funded test kit. The kit will be shipped overnight with instructions on how to schedule a Zoom telehealth meeting with a certified healthcare worker who will virtually instruct you about how to properly collect a saliva sample for shipment to the Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory for testing. Test results are expected to be returned within 72 hours. Any questions can be directed to HomeTesting@mercercounty.org.

When registering, individuals should have their health insurance card handy, but a lack of insurance will not prevent someone from using at-home COVID-19 testing. Federal rules require the collection of insurance information to support the testing program. Under federal law, all forms of public and private insurance must cover FDA-approved COVID-19 tests with no out-of-pocket costs to insured persons.