According to a review of New Jersey Health Department data, the COVID vaccine is 99.92% effective in preventing infection from the virus.

That’s based on the fact that from the beginning of this year through June 28 a total of 4.43 million Garden State residents were fully vaccinated, and there were 3,474 so-called “breakthrough” cases, where people tested positive for COVID anyway.

But the Health Department doctor who conducted the analysis acknowledges the 99.92% effective rate is probably not totally accurate and it’s reasonable to assume there have actually been more breakthrough cases, although no one really knows for sure.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the state Health Department, said unless every man, woman and child in New Jersey was given a COVID test, we cannot know the true number of breakthrough infections because some people don’t have any symptoms and never wind up getting tested.

Lifshitz said the breakthrough issue is being examined very carefully and the very latest data tabulated indicates the vaccines are 99.88% effective in blocking COVID infection, compared to 99.92%.

“Roughly, about 12 per every 10,000 people who are vaccinated are going to come down with an infection," he said.

Based on the initial analysis done by Pfizer and Moderna, “we expect the vaccine to be roughly 95% effective against catching the disease, and probably a little bit lower than that against the Delta variant, but still quite good.”

I got the vaccine, what are the chances that I’m going to get the disease?

Lifshitz said your chances appear to be about 1 in 1,000.

“So it’s extremely effective, very unlikely you will get the disease but unfortunately still possible," he said.

He also noted of the 3,474 breakthrough cases that have been documented in New Jersey, only 84 were serious enough to lead to hospitalization, which works out to a protection rate of 99.9993%.

You’re vaccinated, but should you still be wearing a mask in public areas?

Lifshitz said masking up does give you an added layer of protection if you are in a location with a lot of people who may or may not be vaccinated.

“The more you’re getting exposed, and the higher the levels of virus that you’re being exposed to, the greater the risk that the vaccine isn’t going to work,” he said.

He also noted if you are one of the 900,000 documented COVID cases in New Jersey, you will have a degree of immunity from having the virus, but it’s still a good idea to get vaccinated because that natural immunity will wane over time.

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

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NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

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A roundup of 31 men have been accused of sexually exploiting children online, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on July 14 while detailing "Operation 24/7."

The suspects “possessed and or distributed videos and images of child sexual abuse, including in many cases videos of young children being raped by adults,” Grewal said.

Chat apps and gaming platforms remain favorite hunting grounds for child predators and even as the pandemic winds down, many children have continued to spend more time online.

State Police received 39% more tips in just the first 6 months of 2021 than they received in the entire year in 2019. The following are suspects charged in "Operation 24/7."

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