Few breakthrough COVID cases in NJ, but infections among the unvaccinated rise
Governor Murphy introduces a vaccine records app called Docket. This gives access to COVID vaccination records, useful if card is damaged or lost. NorthJersey.com
Vaccines in New Jersey have been extremely effective in preventing infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, a new state analysis of so-called "breakthrough cases" shows.
But the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant among unvaccinated residents — especially young people — has increased the number of new cases and people in the hospital, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Children are particularly vulnerable, because no vaccine has yet been authorized for those under 12 years old. "It is expected this variant will cause increase cases among children who cannot be vaccinated, including severe cases," said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. "We are concerned."
Vaccines for children: These kids are part of COVID vaccine trials. When will shots be ready for those under 12?
Among the 4.4 million people vaccinated in New Jersey by June 28, the Health Department's analysis showed that only 3,474 tested positive for COVID. Of those, 84 required hospitalization and 31 died.
"We cannot put it more clearly," Murphy said. "The vaccines work. They are proving more than 99.9% effective in preventing people from contracting the virus, 99.99% effective in keeping people out of the hospital, and 99.999% effective in keeping people alive."
Meanwhile, the spread of the delta variant has caused the number of patients hospitalized daily for COVID-19 to grow over the last month from 295 to 338, the health commissioner said.
"These hospitalizations are preventable," Persichilli said. Almost all of those hospitalized are unvaccinated.
“We do not have a pandemic among the vaccinated,” Murphy said. “We have a pandemic among the unvaccinated.”
Story continues below chart
Vaccines prevent serious illness and hospitalization and also protect those in the community who cannot be vaccinated, such as children, Persichilli said.
And while New Jersey's vaccination rate is high compared with those of other states, the rate among young people still lags.
Seventy percent of those over age 30 have had at least one dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, she said.
But only 61% of those ages 18 to 29 and 42% of those ages 12 to 17 have been at least partially vaccinated.
Nevertheless, Murphy said he was not considering reinstating the mask mandate in New Jersey at the moment.
Story continues below chart
"We watch this like a hawk," he said. "We continue to be comfortable with where we are ... Our strong, strong preference is not to go back" to the requirement for masks to be worn in all public places.
On Monday, the state's rate of transmission for the virus rose to 1.37%, meaning that each person who tests positive is likely to infect more than one other. The goal is to reduce the rate of transmission to less than 1.0.
Lindy Washburn is a senior health care reporter for NorthJersey.com. To keep up-to-date about how changes in the medical world affect the health of you and your family, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.