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

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