To end the pandemic, the state Health Department has a target of vaccinating 70% of the eligible adult population within six months.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has stated if we are able to reach this goal by mid-summer, it will mean enough of the population, about 4.7 million Garden State residents, will be protected from the virus to essentially stop if from spreading.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that as more and more people get vaccinated, “we will get wholly dramatically different and better place."

"Memorial Day is going to look a lot different this year than it did last year, and I mean that in a very good way," he said.

According to Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, the New Jersey COVID-19 response medical advisor and a former state epidemiologist, there are several factors involved in reaching this level of community protection, or so-called herd immunity.

He said in order to reach a robust level of community protection, the vaccine needs to be effective.

“In this case we’ve got two vaccines that have 95% efficacy so that is tremendous. I mean, it’s almost unheard of,” he said.

Bresnitz said both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine are extremely effective in offering protection from COVID-19 “and that’s true in even sub-populations such as the older populations, which typically don’t have such a good response, so that’s going to impact on community protection.”

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Another factor is how many people get fully vaccinated, which in this case means getting the first and second dose of vaccine, either 21 or 28 days apart.

And then durability is a consideration — how long the vaccine lasts.

Another factor is how many people already have been infected.

“Because they also had a development of an immunologic response and they have a certain amount of protection as well,” he said. “We don’t know how long that protection is but we know very few people have been re-infected.”

Persichilli said hopefully by April or May, there will be enough of the vaccine available so that anyone in the general population who wants to get vaccinated in New Jersey will be able to do so.

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