New Jersey has seen some “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases among people who have been fully vaccinated, but that’s only 0.06% of the vaccinated patients, State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Wednesday.
Speaking during the state’s recent coronavirus briefing in Trenton, Persichili called the results “reassuring” and said the evidence confirms that breakthrough cases are “rare”.
From December 1
Persichilli said the department found 92 people hospitalized, but only 30 of them were hospitalized because of COVID-19. The others were admitted for a different reason, but tested positive upon admission.
There were 14 deaths among those cases, but only seven were directly related to COVID, Persichilli said.
The State Medical Director of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Edward Lifshitz, said that of the 1,319 people who tested positive for COVID-19, 505 had symptoms, 377 were asymptomatic, and there was no information about the remaining 437 patients.
He said of those who were hospitalized or died that the majority were over 50 years old, while half of hospitalizations and deaths were of people over 80 years old. Two-thirds of the breakthrough cases were among women, he said.
Lifshitz said breakthrough numbers are likely to be an “undercount” because people with no or mild symptoms are often not tested.
Persichilli also shared the results of a Hackensack Meridian Health study of her healthcare professionals.
It found that only 0.58% – or 138 out of 23,697 vaccinated people – tested positive for COVID-19. Of those who tested positive, 105 out of 1,239 individuals or 8.5% had received only one vaccine dose. Of fully vaccinated humans, only 33 out of 22,458 or 0.15% had both doses.
Of those who reported symptoms, five were hospitalized and four of them required additional oxygen, the study said.
“The real message is that the vaccines work,” Barry Kreiswirth, a member of the Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), told NJ Advance Media.
“The home message is whether you were positive after the first or second shot, the severity of your illness was greatly reduced,” Kreiswirth said, noting that the second dose gives people much more protection than one dose alone. “The vaccine does not prevent people from being COVID-positive, but it will prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death.”
The hackensack data are consistent with a recent study by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which showed that people who are vaccinated have milder symptoms if they become infected with COVID-19.
The CDC survey followed more than 3,900 health professionals in the front line. Of the 204 people who tested positive for the virus, only 16 were vaccinated. People with breakthrough infections had 40% less virus in their bodies, 58% were less likely to get a fever and spent two fewer days in bed than unvaccinated people, the study found.
It found that fully vaccinated people were 90% protected against the virus, while those with only one dose were 81% less likely to get the virus.
New Jersey was approaching its 9 million vaccine dose administered with more 4.3 million fully vaccinated residents. This includes about 95,000 foreign residents who were vaccinated in New Jersey. Nearly 170,000 New Jersey residents have been vaccinated in other states.
The state’s goal is to have 70% of New Jersey’s 6.9 million adults vaccinated by the end of this month. About 61% of adult residents have so far been fully vaccinated. In addition, more than 308,000 first and second vaccine doses have been administered to children aged 12 to 17 years.
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Karin Price Mueller can be reached at KPriceMueller@NJAdvanceMedia.com.