A Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Booster Shot May Be Coming Soon
If you're one of the roughly 15 million Americans who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, it seems your booster shot could be arriving soon. The company just announced that it's formally seeking approval to distribute boosters in an effort to help slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. (Read more about J&J booster shots here.)
On Tuesday, in a press release, Johnson & Johnson confirmed that it had submitted data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to support the authorization of a booster dose of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in folks 18 years of age or older. The data submitted to the FDA included the recent results of a study that found that receiving a J&J booster two months after the initial dose provided 94 percent protection against symptomatic COVID-19 (moderate to severe/critical).
"We look forward to our discussions with the FDA and other health authorities to support their decisions regarding boosters," said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson, in a statement Tuesday. "At the same time, we continue to recognize that a single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that provides strong and long-lasting protection remains a crucial component to vaccinating the global population."
Johnson & Johnson is one of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available to Americans (the others being the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines). And, ICYDK, the J&J vaccine differs from the others as it uses an inactivated virus (an adenovirus, which causes the common cold) to instruct the body to deliver proteins (in this case, SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) to trigger an immune response against the virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both rely on messenger RNA (mRNA) to combat the virus. (Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine)
Other data to be part of the submission to the FDA are the results of a study that showed when a Johnson & Johnson booster was given six months after the first COVID-19 vaccine, antibody levels increased nine times just one week after the booster dose. Four weeks after a booster dose, the antibody levels increased 12 times, according to the data (Related: Johnson & Johnson Says a Booster of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Offers Stronger Protection)
Tuesday's news is no doubt a sigh of relief for anyone who has received Johnson & Johnson's single shot and has been patiently awaiting news about when a COVID-19 booster may become available. But don't go running to the pharmacy just yet; the FDA's Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is slated to meet next Thursday and Friday to discuss the booster authorization requests from both J&J and Moderna, according to CNN. As of right now, it's unclear when or for whom the J&J or Moderna boosters will become available.
So far, the FDA has only granted emergency use authorization of a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot for folks who are 65 years of age or older or those who are at high risk of severe infection (e.g. if you have certain underlying medical conditions). The FDA also approved additional shots for people whose job "puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19." according to a September press release from the organization.
No matter which vaccine you initially received, you should feel confident knowing that you're well protected against the most serious effects of COVID-19. Getting your booster as soon as you're eligible will only help bolster your protection and, hopefully, help to save as many lives as possible.
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. As updates about coronavirus COVID-19 continue to evolve, it's possible that some information and recommendations in this story have changed since initial publication. We encourage you to check in regularly with resources such as the CDC, the WHO, and your local public health department for the most up-to-date data and recommendations.