Silence on J&J vaccine leaves recipients with questions

CDC data shows nearly 17 million people in the U.S. received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot as their primary vaccination. Now, many are left with questions as the shot has seemingly disappeared from the nation's discourse on vaccination guidance, Kaiser Health News reported March 1. 

"Very little J&J vaccine is currently being used, which is part of the reason that people don't talk about it very much anymore," William Schaffner, MD, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., told Bernard Wolfson for his column in KHN

When vaccines first became available, the message sent by public health officials was to take the first shot available. Following research that linked Johnson & Johnson's shot to rare but serious blood clots, however, the CDC in December moved to limit its use, saying Pfizer or Moderna's mRNA vaccines are preferred "in most situations." 

A drop in the shot's use has been accompanied by a drop in actionable information for recipients, leading to confusion over what is considered sufficient protection, KHN reports.

While the CDC recommends J&J recipients receive a booster dose of either Pfizer or Moderna's mRNA shot at least two months after getting their initial one-dose vaccination, research showing mRNA vaccines offer a higher degree of protection have spurred confusion over whether J&J recipients should get a third shot to catch up with Pfizer and Moderna recipients, many of whom have gotten three shots if boosted. 

"A lot of us believe [Johnson & Johnson's vaccine] should have been a two-dose vaccine all along," Bradley Pollock, PhD, associate dean for public health sciences at the University of California Davis School of Medicine, told KHN. "It is entirely possible that they're going to say a three-dose schedule is full vaccination" in the near future, he added. 

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