The New Jersey Department of Health has asked for all healthcare providers and long-term care facilities in the state to alert them of SARS‐CoV‐2 positive respiratory specimens when vaccine failure is suspected so that genomic sequencing can be performed. Per the guidance:

“Because most commercial laboratories retain respiratory specimens only a couple days, once public health officials identify a possible vaccine breakthrough case (VBTC), the specimen may no longer be available. It is important for VBTCs to be sequenced so that NJDOH can identify unusual patterns of breakthrough infection associated with one or more SARS‐CoV‐2 variant strains. Sequencing is conducted for public health surveillance; results do not change infection control recommendations or public health actions.”

Facilities may read the full guidance from the NJDOH here for more information.

NJ clients must comply with the request to submit for sequencing all SARS‐CoV‐2 positive (molecular or antigen) respiratory specimens in residents where vaccine failure and/or reinfection is suspected, as well as, when possible, all SARS‐CoV‐2 positive (molecular or antigen) staff specimens where vaccine failure and/or reinfection is suspected.

In incidents of a positive PCR result for SARS-CoV-2, our Customer Service team will reach out to alert your facility to download and fill out the below form “SRD-1: Request for Viral Serology, Culture, and Molecular Diagnostics” with specimen details.

Once filled out, the form must be printed and faxed to 732-839-1064 within 7 days of the alert.

Click to access Request-for-Viral-Serology-Culture-Molecular-Diag-SRD-1-Sept-2020.pdf

Facilities must provide the following information in the “Patient Information” section of the form:

  • Patient Name & Date of Birth
  • Facility Name & Address (please place in “Patient Address” field)
  • Patient Demographics
  • Symptoms on-set date, if possible
  • Pertinent Clinical Information
  • Date of COVID-19 vaccination (please place in “Relevant Immunizations” field)

For “Pertinent Clinical Information”, the facility must write in one of the following:

  • “Vaccine Breakthrough Case” (Defined as a U.S. resident who has SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA or antigen detected on a respiratory specimen collected ≥14 days after completing the primary series of an FDA‐authorized COVID‐19 vaccine.)
  • “Suspected Reinfection” (defined as a recurrence of symptoms and a positive viral test result (molecular or antigen) ≥90 days after an initial RT‐PCR positive test result.)

For the convenience of your staff, the form has also already been pre-filled with “SARS-CoV-2 RNA Sequencing” under the Specimen Source Site information, as necessary to request genomic sequencing.

Aculabs asks facilities to ensure that the form is faxed to 732-839-1064.

Note: Per the NJ DOH, federal regulations do not authorize the state’s PHEL to report variant identification to submitting facilities. Sequencing results will be used by the DOH for epidemiological and surveillance purposes. If a variant of concern is identified, additional guidance will be provided by them as appropriate.