Health

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine recipients remain in limbo due to a lack of data on boosters

13 million Americans who had Johnson & Johnson vaccine are in limbo over booster shot because FDA has failed to approve third jab due to ‘lack of data’

  • COVID-19 vaccine booster shots have been made available for some recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
  • Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remain in limbo, though, awaiting approval for booster shots
  • The FDA says they plan to eventually approve booster shots for J&J recipients, but can not do so yet due to limited data 
  • Expert recommends that some J&J recipients concerned about booster shots should contact physician about receiving an additional jab
  • Data from Europe regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine could prove valuable in approving boosters for the J&J vaccine stateside


As COVID-19 vaccine boosters start to roll out across the country, there is one group that seems to have been left out of the conversation.

Recipients of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not yet eligible for an extra dose while they are becoming available to those who received the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs.

This has left J&J vaccine recipients in limbo, especially the immunocompromised who may be at risk from the Indian ‘Delta’ variant despite being fully vaccinated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they plan to eventually approve booster shots for J&J recipients, but can not yet do so due to a lack of data.

But some people who got the J&J shot have resorted to receiving extra doses before being authorized.

The 13.9 million recipients of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have been left in limbo, as they await word on when booster shots will be made available for them

Expert recommends that some J&J recipients concerned about booster shots should contact physician about receiving an additional jab. Pictured: A woman receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine from a healthcare worker, August 2021

Expert recommends that some J&J recipients concerned about booster shots should contact physician about receiving an additional jab. Pictured: A woman receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine from a healthcare worker, August 2021

The FDA authorized additional vaccine doses for immunocompromised recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines last week and is expected to be recommended to receive booster shots eight months after completing their first vaccination series.

The agency has yet to give guidance for J&J recipients, though. 

While the number of Americans who have received the one-shot vaccine, around 13.9 million, is dwarfed by the nearly 350 million Americans who received the two-shot jobs, this group is still extremely worried. 

‘They’re in limbo,’  Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, told the DailyMail.com.

‘It’s a big issue for individuals who received the vaccine. It is a small number in comparison to others, but it is very important to these recipients.’

Schaffner’s medical center in Nashville has been inundated with calls from J&J vaccine recipients worried about the prospect of the Delta variant. 

He says that he is especially worried about some immunocompromised people, and specifically HIV patients, who received the one-shot vaccine. 

Data on the J&J vaccine are coming in slower than in came in for others, though, meaning health officials do not have the information necessary to make an official recommendation.

Schaffner says there are some way around this.

He insists that while he can not make any blanket recommendations, those who are worried should contact their doctor and discuss the prospect of receiving an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.  

Some physicians are already making that recommendation, and in San Francisco the city’s health department is already offering J&J recipients at ‘supplemental’ shot of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.  

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has reported that at least one million Americans have received an ‘unauthorized’ booster shot. 

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine recipients remain in limbo due to a lack of data on boosters

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine recipients remain in limbo due to a lack of data on boosters

The data necessary to make an official recommendation may take some time, though, if it ever does come in. 

‘I don’t think we’ll have a great of information on mixing and matching with the J&J [vaccine],’ Schaffner said. 

‘I don’t think we’ll have a lot of data about J&J first dose then Pfizer or Moderna second [dose].’

Schaffner does say that data from Europe and the AstraZeneca vaccine could be valuable.

Data out of Europe find that the combination of the AstraZeneca vaccine – which is not available in the U.S.-  and the Pfizer vaccine is both safe and effective.

While the J&J vaccine is not exactly the same as its counterpart, it is similar enough that data from across the pond could be used to make a decision in America.

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine recipients remain in limbo due to a lack of data on boosters

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