Americans who received Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine are expected to need a booster shot, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Sunday, but the government is still waiting to issue a recommendation until it receives more information, including data on whether the Johnson & Johnson shot can be mixed with a second dose of a different vaccine.
When asked on CNN Sunday whether Johnson & Johnson recipients getting a booster shot is safe, Murthy said government health officials believe those recipients will “likely need a booster.”
Before it makes a recommendation to say if a Johnson & Johnson booster shot is safe, however, the government is “waiting on some data from the company about the second dose so the [Food and Drug Administration] can fully evaluate the safety and efficacy of that dose.”
The government also has studies underway that will be presented to the FDA “where we have one type of vaccine followed by another type of vaccine,” Murthy said, which “would include J&J followed by a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.”
Once it has more information, the government can issue recommendations including when Johnson & Johnson recipients should receive any potential booster shot and which vaccine is the best to get, Murthy said.
What To Watch For
Murthy previously said earlier this week that more data on Johnson & Johnson booster shots is expected “in the coming weeks.”
13.9 million. That’s the number of Americans that are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as of Sunday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as compared with 91.7 million people vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 64.7 million people with Moderna.
The federal government announced this week that Americans who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should get a booster shot of the vaccine eight months after vaccination starting in late September, but did not issue any guidance at the time for Johnson & Johnson recipients. Data for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on a later timeline compared with the other shots after the one-dose vaccine was only approved for use in late February and rolled out starting in March, while Pfizer and Moderna received government approval in December. The approval of booster shots comes amid fears that Covid-19 vaccines will wane in efficacy as time goes on and as the vaccines have shown somewhat diminished effectiveness in the face of the delta variant, though they still remain strongly protective against hospitalization and death. A recent New York University study suggested the Johnson & Johnson shot is potentially far less effective at preventing delta variant infections than previous strains of the coronavirus, contradicting an earlier study from the company that found a higher degree of effectiveness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has disapproved of countries administering booster shots while much of the world still does not have access to an adequate supply of Covid-19 vaccines for even initial doses, both to combat vaccine inequity and protect against the possibility that even more dangerous variants of the coronavirus could emerge as a result. Murthy conceded on ABC Sunday the U.S.’s booster campaign would take away from the rest of the world’s supply, but pointed to efforts by the U.S. to donate millions of vaccines to other countries.
What to Know About Boosters if You Got the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine (New York Times)
Do I need a booster if I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? (Associated Press)