Vaccine megasite offers space for people with sensory sensitivities

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can be a stressful situation for some people. It's why one of New Jersey’s megasites wants to help those who have special needs have a seamless experience.
The megasite at the Moorestown Mall inoculates thousands of people a day. For those who have autism, it can be an overwhelming experience. Laurie Lausi’s son has autism and Down syndrome.
“We’re always prepared to have to give him a nice, big bear hug when he gets any kind of shots and that’s just in a quiet doctor’s office,” she says. “So, to have to go in and see all these lines of people and bright lights and just that would’ve been sensory overload for him.”
Lausi’s son is one of the teens who inspired a quiet, dim, sensory-friendly space where anyone can receive the vaccine, including those with PTSD or dementia.
“It was the best shot experience we’ve ever had and thank goodness we’re going back for a second shot on Wednesday and I know he’s going to be fine because he was able to feel like he was in a safe space,” Lausi says.
To receive the vaccine or schedule a loved one's vaccine at the sensory-friendly room, one must have a vaccination appointment at the Moorestown Mall site, which is done through Virtua's website.
“Once you have a confirmed appointment, the best thing is to contact us and we’ll have a special number that they can call, preferably 24 hours or as soon as they confirm their appointment that will allow me to talk to whoever the family is and find out what their needs are and then create a safety plan for whoever the person being vaccinated is,” says clinic manager Phyllis Worrel.
The room is open during the vaccination site hours. Those interested in the sensory-friendly room can call 856-206-4433.