Through the first four months of the New Jersey COVID-19 vaccination program, less than 1% of breakthrough cases were identified and cataloged in the state.
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) identified 1,319 COVID-19 breakthrough cases which represents 0.06% of the 2.2 million people fully vaccinated from December 2020 through April 2021 of the state’s vaccination program.
The fact that 99.94% of individuals vaccinated did not test positive for COVID-19 after vaccination demonstrates to state officials that breakthrough infection cases are extremely rare.
“COVID-19 vaccines are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness, so some cases among fully vaccinated individuals are expected,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli at a press briefing June 9.
Vaccines Are Working
Furthermore, people who were fully vaccinated had less severe illness demonstrated by a small number of hospitalizations and deaths. NJDOH found that 92 individuals with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infection were hospitalized with only 30 reported as related to COVID-19 illness. There were 14 deaths among individuals with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infection, seven reported to be related to the coronavirus.
“This data shows us overwhelmingly that these vaccines work,” Persichilli stated. “It suggests the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. offer protection against most COVID-19 variants that are circulating.”
Of 92 individuals hospitalized, which represents 0.004% of those fully vaccinated during the time period, 30 of the hospitalizations were COVID-19 related and 62 were hospitalized for other illnesses. Of those 30 individuals hospitalized related to the coronavirus, 20 had underlying conditions. Nearly three-quarters of those hospitalized—71%—were 65 years or older (37% were 80 years or older) and 59% were female.
Rarity of Deaths
The 14 deaths represent 0.0006% of the 2.2 million fully vaccinated or 1% of the total number of the 1,300 breakthrough cases.
Department of Health Medical Advisor Dr. Ed Lifshitz said the risk of a fully vaccinated individual dying from COVID-19 is extremely small, reporting the odds are larger for a person drowning (885 people per million), choking to death (395 per million), or being killed by a lightning strike (seven per million).
“I’m just going to reiterate the message: The vaccines we have, they’re not perfect, but they’re pretty close, “ he said. “They’re literally lifesavers.”
Additionally, officials noted a study by two researchers at the Hackensack Meridian Health network and its Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) found just 138 COVID-19 positive cases among 26,000 vaccinated healthcare workers, of whom none became seriously ill. Authors Dr. Barry Kreiswirth of the CDI and Dr. David Chow at the Hackensack Meridian Health Biorepository found vaccination is working, across the board and among all the known variants of concern identified.
The vaccine is not only driving down the number of cases, but it is mitigating the worst effects of the virus among those few who do get infected, according to Persichilli.
“Both our data and this study demonstrates overwhelmingly that the vaccines work,” said Persichilli.
Gov. Phil Murphy noted there’s a direct correlation between the Garden State’s steadily increasing vaccination numbers with the decreasing case counts and hospitalizations.
“It’s not by accident,” said Murphy. “It’s because we have safe and effective vaccines in our toolbox. These numbers are so low because we are steadily decreasing the spread of this virus, which means fewer new cases and therefore fewer hospitalizations.”
The governor said the data shows those who are testing positive or entering New Jersey hospitals or dying, are now most likely overwhelmingly those individuals who have not been vaccinated.
“In a community in Tennessee—that I think had only a 20% vaccination rate, and their hospitalizations over the past period of time are up 700%,” said Murphy. “As one of my colleagues said, increasingly, this is a pandemic among unvaccinated individuals.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 9,049,275 in-state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 9,407,249 as of June 10. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,294,767 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 169,955 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 4,464,722.
Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 52% are White, 14% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 8% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 26% are 65 years old or olders, 28% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 17% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 990,974 doses (472,716 fully vaccinated), Essex 750,031 doses (351,764), Hudson 646,650 doses (298,224), Morris 587,068 doses (279,858), Passaic 460,193 doses (215,688), Sussex 136,569 doses (65,793), and Warren 88,682 doses (42,673).
As of June 10, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 889,622 with 247 total new PCR cases reported. There were 144 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 129,211. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,018,833.
As for those that have passed, the state reported seven new deaths, bringing that total to 23,637. The state listed probable deaths at 2,685, bringing the overall total to 26,322. State officials noted 37 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on June 10, Bergen had a total of 17 new confirmed cases and 14 new probable case, Essex 32 new cases and 18 new probable cases, Hudson 29 new cases and 14 new probable cases, Morris 16 new cases and six new probable cases, Passaic 18 new cases and eight new probable case, Sussex five new cases and six new probable cases, and Warren had four new cases and one new probable case.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,712, followed by Bergen at 2,588, Hudson with 2,086, Passaic at 1,739, Morris at 985, Sussex at 245, and Warren County at 220.
In regards to probable deaths reported June 9, Essex has 300, Bergen has 299, Morris has 261, Hudson has 215, Passaic has 199, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported June 10, it increased to 0.77 from 0.74 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested June 5, was 1.7%; by region, the rate was 2.1% in the North, 1.4% in the Central region and 1.4% in the South.
Officials reported 436 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 220 in the North, 104 in the Central and 112 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 99 are in intensive care units and 56 on ventilators. A total of 87 patients were discharged.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 89,838, followed by Middlesex at 84,876, Essex at 84,734, Hudson at 78,831, Monmouth at 67,512, Ocean at 65,712, Passaic at 65,663, Union at 60,470, Camden at 49,007, Morris at 41,911, Burlington at 38,276, Mercer at 31,649, Gloucester at 26,558, Atlantic at 24,937, Somerset at 24,292, Cumberland at 14,877, Sussex at 11,705, Warren at 8,963, Hunterdon at 8,921, Salem at 5,549, and Cape May at 4,622.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,638, followed by Union at 11,043, Ocean at 10,244, Essex at 9,503, Hudson at 9,254, Morris at 8,286, Monmouth at 8,123, Middlesex at 7,491, Passaic at 7,382, Camden at 6,696, Atlantic at 6,634, Burlington at 5,967, Somerset at 5,778, Cape May at 4,584, Gloucester at 4,023, Mercer at 2,414, Sussex at 2,319, Cumberland at 2,271, Warren at 1,027, Hunterdon at 898, and Salem 541.
Another 719 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 73 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 2,004 of the cases, broken down between 778 residents and 1,226 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,474 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,760 residents and 22,221 staff, for a total of 54,981.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,058 on June 10. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,869 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.