As New Jersey closes in on 75% of residents being fully vaccinated, state officials are focusing on subsets of those hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to push the percentage higher.
The latest cohort they are trying to publicly persuade are pregnant women.
New Jersey Department of the Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli made the argument that pregnant women should receive the two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the one jab Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a press briefing Oct. 4. Only 31% of pregnant individuals in the United States are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Higher Risk for COVID
Persichilli stated that pregnant women need to understand that not getting vaccinated is putting themselves and their unborn child at risk.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will not harm you or the child you are carrying,” attested the commissioner. “The important thing is you will be harmed if you are not vaccinated, you’re putting yourself and your fetus at risk.”
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Persichilli rattled off the new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found pregnant women who test positive for COVID and are symptomatic were twice as likely to be admitted to intensive care and be put on a ventilator as well as a 70% increased risk of death
Additionally, women face a higher risk of pregnancy problems.
“That could include preterm birth, stillbirth and admission into the ICU of a newborn, also infected with COVID-19,” she said.
Persichilli pointed out that vaccination rates vary markedly by race and ethnicity. Asian pregnant women have the highest vaccine coverage at 45.7%, while 25% of Latino pregnant women and 15.6% of Black pregnant women are vaccinated.
Health officials assured women of childbearing age that while their hesitancy of putting anything that’s not natural into their bodies is understandable, this is not the case with the COVID-19 vaccines.
Fighting Myths, Misinformation
“The much, much, much greater risk is not the unnatural vaccine that you would take but the unnatural virus that could invade you instead,” said Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services at the New Jersey Health Department. “The virus is much, much riskier to the unborn child and to the mother itself than the vaccine, and I’d strongly encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated.”
Gov. Phil Murphy during the briefing lamented that the state has not been able to persuade those who are unwilling to receive the shot, saying there is a portion of the 25% remaining whom “nothing will ever break through the misinformation they’re clinging to.”
“The big headline for me on pregnant women is it does not impact your fertility—that’s one of these big myths,” said Murphy. “We are now at a very distinct minority of residents who aren’t vaccinated. A free vaccine is far, far better than an expensive hospital stay or the cost to your family for your funeral.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,794,180 in-state, plus an additional 453,177 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,247,357 as of Oct. 5. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,700,829 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 195,983 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,896,812. State officials reported 136,047 have received a third booster shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,317,568 doses (635,683 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,022,769 doses (490,416), Hudson 923,199 doses (444,099), Morris 714,300 doses (343,356), Passaic 635,072 doses (306,035), Sussex 167,756 doses (82,520), and Warren 109,680 doses (53,626).
As of Oct. 5, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,010,262 with 1,255 total new PCR cases. There were 508 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 152,264. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,162,526.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 37 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,728. The state listed probable deaths at 2,797, bringing the overall total to 27,525. State officials noted 15 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 5, Bergen had a total of 103 new confirmed cases and 40 new probable cases, Essex 72 new cases and eight new probable case, Hudson 63 new cases and 14 new probable cases, Morris 50 new confirmed cases and 34 new probable cases, Passaic 66 new cases and 15 new probable cases, Sussex 35 new cases and 14 new probable cases, and Warren 12 new cases and one new probable case.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,820, followed by Bergen at 2,658, Hudson with 2,151, Passaic at 1,789, Morris at 1,025, Sussex at 252, and Warren County at 225.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 4, Essex has 311, Bergen has 308, Morris has 265, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 69 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,541,443 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 20, 30,267 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 629 COVID-related hospitalizations and 158 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 13-Sept. 19, breakthroughs accounted for 24.8% of all new cases (3,414 of 10,760), 4.2% of new hospilizations (42 of 1,000), and two of the 121 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 5, it declined to 0.88 from three straight days at 0.91. The daily rate of infections from those tested Sept. 30 was 4.0%; by region, the rate was 3.1% in the North, 4.7% in the Central region and 5.2% in the South.
The state reported 1,087 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 326 in the North, 362 in the Central and 399 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 246 are in intensive care units and 144 on ventilators. A total of 82 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
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.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, the state has tracked 39 school outbreaks and 219 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 21 outbreaks and 112 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 182 students and 37 teachers in 38 communities across 16 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 1, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with 50 cases, Essex County has four confirmed outbreak with 16 cases, Bergen County has three confirmed outbreak with 15 cases, Morris County has two confirmed outbreaks with eight cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, and Sussex has one confirmed outbreak with four cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 160 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,246 of the cases, broken down between 674 residents and 572 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,740 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,704 residents and 23,037 staff, for a total of 56,741.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,553 on Oct. 5. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,971 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.