There have been 49 fully vaccinated people in New Jersey who have died from the coronavirus through July 12, state health officials told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.
More than half of those who died had at least one underlying medical condition, according to Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.
The number of deaths has increased since Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that there had been 31 fully vaccinated people who died of COVID through June 28. The latest number includes cases through July 12, the latest data available, Leusner said.
All of the deaths were people over age 50, with 30 of them over age 80. Thirteen of the deaths were people between the ages of 65 and 79, and six were between the ages of 50 and 64, Leusner said.
Of the 27 deaths of people with underlying conditions, 17 had cardiovascular disease, seven had diabetes and nine had cancer or other immunocompromised conditions, she said. Five had chronic lung conditions, three had chronic kidney disease, one had chronic liver disease and five others are listed as “other chronic diseases.” Some of the people who died had more than one underlying condition.
Data about whether any of the people who died were nursing homes residents was not available.
“It is important to point out that 49 deaths due to COVID-19 among 4.8 million fully vaccinated state residents is slightly greater than one in 100,000 fully vaccinated individuals,” said state communicable disease service medical director Ed Lifshitz. “That means vaccines are about 99.999% effective in preventing deaths due to COIVD-19.”
While those who are most at risk of death from COVID-19 are unvaccinated people with underlying conditions, fully vaccinated people with underlying conditions will remain at risk as long as a large part of the population is unvaccinated, said Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health.
“The solution to our problems both in terms of stopping the deaths and also stopping the spread of the disease depends on increasing the percentage of the population who are vaccinated,” Halkitis said. “But we have the flu vaccine in 59% of people. Why do we think we’re going to get higher than that with COVID-19?”
“But we have to get higher than that. It’s got to be better,” he added.
More than 5.18 million people who live, work, or study in New Jersey have now been fully vaccinated, according to state data. There are more than 9 million residents in the state, including children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
About 70% of the eligible population is vaccinated in New Jersey, ranking about 7th in country, according to CDC data.
If more people don’t get vaccinations, Halkitis said, he expects new restrictions in the months to come because “unvaccinated people are placing themselves and all of us at risk.”