While it is possible to get the virus even after getting the vaccine, a new analysis by the state Health Department finds these so-called breakthrough cases to be extremely rare.

During the latest COVID update in Trenton on Wednesday, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said of the 2.2 million people fully vaccinated in the first four months of the state's vaccination program, a total of 1,319 breakthrough cases were identified.

"That means 99.94% of those vaccinated did not test positive," she said. “This high percentage demonstrates that breakthrough infections are extremely rare.”

As more and more people get vaccinated in the Garden State COVID infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths continue to drop.

She said as expected, people who were fully vaccinated had less severe illness, based on the small number of hospitalizations and deaths that were recorded.

The data shows 92 individuals with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections were hospitalized, but only 30 of those hospitalizations were reported to be related to COVID illness.

In other words, most of these people hospitalized were being treated for some other condition like a broken arm or a heart attack when routine testing indicated they had COVID.

She said of this group, there were 14 deaths but seven were reported to be related to COVID-19.

She said a separate study at the Hackensack Meridian Health network found 138 positive COVID cases among 26,000 vaccinated health care workers, and none of these individuals became seriously ill.

“Both our data and this study demonstrates overwhelmingly that the vaccines work,” said Persichilli.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the state Health Department, said of the fully vaccinated Jersey residents who got COVID: “Those over the age of 80 accounted for almost half of all hospitalizations and half of the deaths related to COVID-19.”

He said the analysis indicates the risk of a fully vaccinated individual testing positive was 602 per million, 42 per million would be hospitalized and 6 per million would die from any cause.

For comparison, 885 people per million are likely to drown, 395 per million could choke to death and 7 per million can be killed by lightning.

"The risk of dying from COVID (when vaccinated) is extremely small," he said.

The data shows women accounted for almost two thirds of all of the symptomatic breakthrough cases, hospitalizations and deaths in New Jersey.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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