New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 9, 2021

Judith M. Persichilli

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

NJ Department of Health Releases Data on COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases Among Fully-Vaccinated Residents

Fewer Than One Tenth of One Percent Breakthrough Cases Among 2.2 million Fully Vaccinated

The Department of Health has identified 1,319 COVID-19 breakthrough cases which represents .06% of the 2.2 million people fully vaccinated in the first four months (December 2020 through April 2021) of New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination program. The fact that 99.94% of individuals vaccinated did not test positive for COVID-19 after vaccination demonstrates that breakthrough infections are extremely rare.

“COVID-19 vaccines are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness, so some cases among fully vaccinated individuals are expected,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

As expected, people who were fully vaccinated had less severe illness demonstrated by a small number of hospitalizations and deaths. The Department found that 92 individuals with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infection were hospitalized, however only 30 were reported as related to COVID-19 illness.  There were 14 deaths among individuals with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infection, however only 7 were reported to be related to COVID-19.  

“This data shows us overwhelmingly that these vaccines work,” Commissioner Persichilli said. “It also suggests the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. offer protection against most COVID-19 variants that are circulating. However, variants circulating in the state may cause some of the breakthrough cases.”

The 1,319 breakthrough cases represent 0.06% of the 2.2 million individuals who were fully vaccinated between the start of the state’s vaccination program on December 15, 2020 and April 23, 2021.

Of 92 individuals hospitalized, which represents 0.004% of those fully vaccinated, 30 of the hospitalizations were COVID-19 related and 62 were hospitalized for other illnesses. Of those 30 individuals hospitalized related to COVID-19, 20 had underlying conditions. Nearly three-quarters of those hospitalized—71%--were 65 years or older (37% were 80 years or older) and 59% were female.

The 14 deaths represent 0.0006% of the 2.2 million fully vaccinated or 1% of the total number of the 1,300 breakthrough cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks states to report only breakthrough cases that were hospitalized or who died and posts those numbers online.  

A study by two researchers at the Hackensack Meridian Health network and its Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) found just 138 COVID-19 positive cases among 26,000 vaccinated health care workers, of whom none became seriously ill. Authors Dr. Barry Kreiswirth of the CDI and Dr. David Chow at the Hackensack Meridian Health Biorepository found vaccination is working, across the board, and among all the known variants of concern identified. The vaccine is not only driving down the number of cases, but it is also mitigating the worst effects of the virus among those few who do get infected. 

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