How J&J's vaccine fits into the US booster plan

Katie Adams - Print  | 

The U.S. said Aug. 18 it is prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans who received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, leaving many of the 14 million Americans who received Johnson & Johnson's vaccine feeling left in the dark.

Four things to know:

  1. When HHS announced its booster plan, it did not account for Americans who had received Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, as it said it was waiting on the drugmaker to deliver data on its booster shot.

    "For people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we anticipate vaccine boosters will likely be needed," Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said during an Aug. 18 White House news briefing. "The J&J vaccine was not administered in the U.S. until March of 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the coming weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots."

  2. On Aug. 25, Johnson & Johnson announced a booster dose of its vaccine increases antibody levels nine-fold. The drugmaker said it will submit this new data to the FDA.

  3. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, and acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, recommended the U.S. delay its COVID-19 booster rollout during a Sept. 2 meeting with Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator. The recommendation was made because the FDA needs more time to collect and review the data on COVID-19 booster's safety and efficacy.

    Drs. Woodcock and Walensky told Mr. Zients the FDA may only be able to approve and recommend booster doses for people who received Pfizer's vaccine in time for the country's planned rollout.

  4. Many Americans who received Johnson & Johnson's vaccine have expressed worry about when they will be eligible for boosters and how their protection will hold up against the delta variant.

    "I feel like I’m being neglected," Janice Higgins, a 69-year-old Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipient told The Washington Post. "I’m trying to do the right thing and I’m being stymied by the health establishment."

    A federal health official who spoke anonymously told the publication the U.S. has "no idea" what to tell people who got Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. "We’ve kind of left people who got J&J high and dry," they said.

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