Aug 19, 2021 - Health

But what about those vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson shots?

Animation of a syringe icon acting as a loading bar on a screen.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 14 million people who received a Johnson & Johnson shot are going to have to wait a few more weeks for answers on boosters due to lack of data, federal health officials said Wednesday.

Why it matters: The CDC currently advises people to stay with the shot they had initially. The effects of mixing doses are still unclear, but "it is anticipated that vaccine boosters will likely be needed," the White House tweeted.

  • Data for the J&J shot is months behind mRNA shots, since the company only received emergency use authorization in March while Pfizer and Moderna received theirs in December.
  • Still, emerging evidence shows people who received adenovirus vaccines like J&J or AstraZeneca would benefit from an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine.
  • Germany and the U.K. have been giving doses of mRNA vaccines to people who got the AstraZeneca vaccine, BBC reports.

What we know: Booster recommendations for J&J recipients were largely left out of the conversation last week when federal health officials announced that immunocompromised Americans can receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • J&J anticipates sharing data shortly regarding boosting with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, a spokesperson tells Axios.
  • A July study from the company claims the shot provides adequate protection against the highly transmissible Delta variant. An independent one said protection decreased, however.

What's happening: The San Francisco health department was the first in the U.S. in early August to make an "accommodation" for J&J recipients to get a supplemental mRNA vaccine dose who have consulted with a doctor.

  • Clinicians have enough information to "provide J&J recipients guidance as to whether they should get a booster," Leana Wen, visiting professor at the George Washington University school of public health, said in a Washington Post op-ed.

What they're saying: It's unfortunate J&J recipients will eventually need a booster considering the single dose was enticing for some, but an mRNA shot is the next best step than getting another dose of the J&J, Phil Felgner, director of University of California, Irvine Vaccine Research and Development Center, tells Axios.

Yes, but: Willingness to get a booster is less prevalent among J&J recipients, a recent poll from Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School shows.

  • About two-thirds of those who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines want a booster, compared with 44% who received J&J.
  • 13% of J&J explicitly said they do not want a booster shot, more than two times as many Moderna and Pfizer recipients.
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