While Gov. Phil Murphy has been stating for weeks that COVID-19 is now a pandemic for the unvaccinated, State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli stressed that the virus, including the Delta variant, is expected to increase cases among children who, at this time, cannot be vaccinated.
The case rate among children under 12 years of age has been increasing along with the overall increase in state cases among the unvaccinated, Persichilli said at today’s COVID-19 press briefing.
When comparing data from June 12 with data from last week, case rates per 100,000 children increased by 29% among those four years of age and under. For those 5 to 10 years of age, the case rate increased by 15%. For children 11 to 13 years of age, the rate increased by 36%.
“This is troubling because those under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated,” Persichilli said. “They do not have protections that vaccines offer.”
It is also important that the vaccination rate for those aged 12 to 17 be strong because they are likely to mix with younger children, whether it is at summer camp, or at school in the fall, Persichilli gave as examples.
She also said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that Americans between the ages of 12 and 29 are contracting COVID-19 at the highest rates.
This reflects what is happening in New Jersey as Persichilli reported that individuals 19 to 24 years of age have the highest positivity rate in the state at 3.86%. The second highest rate, at 3.46%, is among those 25 to 29 years of age.
While 70% of New Jerseyans over the age of 30 have received at least one dose of a vaccine, only 42% of those 12 to 17 have done so. For those 18 to 29 years of age, this number is 61%.
“To build greater protection for our state, we need more of individuals in the younger age groups to get vaccinated,” Persichilli said.
Meanwhile, Murphy discussed the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines amid breakthrough cases (people who have been fully vaccinated, but have contracted the virus). Of the 4,432,769 fully vaccinated in the state (those who received their final dose by June 14), 3,474 tested positive afterwards.
“This means that the vaccines in our toolbox are proving to be 99.92% effective against contracting the virus,” Murphy said.
“When looking at the number of hospitalization and deaths among the fully vaccinated, the effective rate is even higher,” Murphy continued.
A total of 84 COVID-19 related hospitalizations were counted among the fully vaccinated, for a 99.998% effective rate. Meanwhile, there were 31 COVID-19 related deaths among the same group, for a 99.993% effective rate.
“These numbers speak for themselves and speak volumes as to why everyone age 12 and up, who is eligible, should get vaccinated,” Murphy said.
With cases rising, the governor was asked how close the state might be to imposing health restrictions again. “We are not there yet,” Murphy answered. “We continue to be comfortable where we are, but we are watching this like a hawk. Our strong preference is not to go back.”
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