Guide to the COVID-19 Vaccine

February 18, 2021

What the Autism Community Needs to Know

We’ve seen progress as local, state and federal officials and private healthcare partners continue to work through logistical and production challenges to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed in an efficient and equitable way.

New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub has the most updated information about the rollout of the vaccine and resources about appointments and eligibility.

Visit the NJ Vaccine Site

In this series of articles, we offer some autism-specific information and strategies in an effort to educate our community about vaccines and what you need to know about:

Part 1
Prioritizing the
autism community

Part 2
The vaccine and getting
an appointment

Part 3
Special needs

How the autism community is prioritized

As our mission states, Autism New Jersey is committed to ensuring safe and fulfilling lives for individuals with autism and their needs remain the top priority of our advocacy efforts. We continue to monitor the state’s pandemic and vaccine guidelines to ensure they address the specific concerns of our stakeholders.

New Jersey has made plans for how the vaccine will be rolled out based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New Jersey is using a phased approach to vaccine distribution for COVID-19.

What phase is New Jersey’s autism community in?

There’s no single answer to where the autism community fits in these phases.

  • Personnel and individuals with I/DD living in congregate care settings such as group homes are included in Phase 1A. Many in this group have already been vaccinated.
  • Workers in healthcare settings (facility- and home-based) and caregivers are also broadly named in Phase 1A. This includes physicians, psychologists, behavior analysts, and others who work in healthcare settings.
  • Though not explicitly named, some with autism fall into Phase 1B (persons ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions).

Generally speaking, priority has been given to those most vulnerable residing in long-term care and congregate settings. Those with autism (16 and older) living at home with parents/caregiver or independently are not explicitly included in a top-tier phase.

What about teachers and other educational professionals?

While healthcare personnel, which includes many treatment providers, have been a top priority, education personnel are currently listed in Phase 1B. While some groups in Phase 1B (first responders and individuals with high-risk medical conditions) are currently eligible for the vaccination, Governor Murphy has stated that eligibility will be open to all groups in Phase 1B once the federal supply of vaccines increases.

Autism New Jersey made recommendations for special education personnel be considered for the top priority group.

Vaccination phases are tentative and may change. Visit New Jersey’s Vaccination Info Page for up-to-date information on vaccination distribution.

Ensuring the critical needs of individuals with autism are considered — during this process and in all decisions made by state officials that impact our community — remains our priority.

Next articleAbout the vaccine and getting an appointment →

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If you have questions about our public policy efforts relating to vaccines or other issues, please contact Eric Eberman, Director of Public Policy, at

We’re proud to say that, since the beginning of the pandemic, not one call to our Helpline has gone unanswered. If you need assistance, call us at 800.4.AUTISM or or send us a message/chat with us via the link at the bottom of this page.