By CBSNewYork Team

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey health officials are encouraging those who are eligible to get a booster vaccine.

With the Delta variant still so prevalent, doctors say that added dose is an important extra layer of protection.

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As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reports, breakthrough COVID cases in New Jersey make up less than 1% of all infections, but there’s no doubt vaccine protection decreases around the six-month mark.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal says his staff at University Hospital in Newark has been making sure patients know when they can get their booster.

“We’re not seeing nearly as much demand as we had planned for and as we had hoped, so we’re doubling down on contacting every patient who’s eligible,” he said.

According to state data, nearly 80% of residents who are eligible for a Pfizer vaccine booster have not yet gotten the shot.

Doctors say it might stem from confusion over who’s eligible, so the state health department started a campaign it hopes will help, especially in communities where there is still hesitancy about the first doses.

“The department has advertisements on billboards, trains, buses, transit platforms, outlining eligibility,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

There’s also a new pop-up tab on the department’s homepage as a reminder that many who got their second dose of Pfizer in or before April are good to go.

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“That includes those 65 years and older, those with underlying medical conditions at high risk for severe COVID or individuals who work in a job that places them at higher risk,” Persichilli said.

Those jobs include health care workers, grocery store workers and first responders.

COVID VACCINE

There are also new, long-awaited answers on whether your booster can be a different brand than your original doses.

“The new data at least suggests that there’s nothing horribly wrong with mixing and matching. In some instances, the antibody response might be paradoxically better, and there does not seem to be any significant safety problems,” said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health.

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Specifically, those who initially got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine saw a significant rise in antibody levels when boosted with Pfizer or Moderna.

The Food and Drug Administration could OK mixing and matching as soon as Wednesday.

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CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team