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HACKENSACK, N.J. — Several months ago, at the beginning of this latest surge of COVID cases, health officials identified the unvaccinated as a familiar target of the highly transmissible virus.

Data from a New Jersey hospital once again proves that point.

Hackensack Merdian Health — also known as Hackensack University Medical Center — tweeted out new numbers on Friday that show out of more than 1,000 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, 55% were unvaccinated. Ninety-five percent didn’t have a booster shot.

Additionally, out of the 90 COVID-19 patients on a ventilator, 74% were not vaccinated. Every patient on a ventilator had yet to get a booster shot, according to the data.

The main takeaway from those numbers? Booster shots remain a key weapon in fighting severe illness due to COVID-19, doctors say.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a booster mandate on Friday for the state’s health care workers, and she does not expect much resistance.

“We don’t think it’s going to be that level of challenge that it was the first go round,” Hochul said.

But as effective as boosters are in reducing rates of severe illness, they do not prevent transmission, Epidemiologist and Professor of Public Health at Montclair State University Dr. Stephanie Silvera said.

“If we think about our prevention as slices of swiss cheese, each one of them has a hole,” she said. “But if you layer one on top of the other, those holes get smaller and smaller.”