A panel of US health advisers endorsed booster doses of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine Friday, saying they should be offered at least two months after immunization. J&J has asked the Food and Drug Administration for flexibility with its booster, the AP reports, arguing that the extra dose adds important protection as soon as two months after initial vaccination—but that it might work better if people wait until six months later. The FDA's advisory panel, which voted unanimously, did not set a time frame for the booster.
The outside advisers cited concern that recipients of J&J's vaccination seem to be less protected than people who got two-dose Pfizer or Moderna options and that most got that single dose many months ago. The FDA isn't bound by the vote, but its decision could help expand the nation's booster campaign. The government says that all three vaccines offer strong protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19, and that the priority is getting first shots to the unvaccinated.
But there's a growing push to shore up protection against breakthrough infections and the extra-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. Booster doses of Pfizer's vaccine began last month for people at high risk of contracting COVID-19, and the FDA advisory panel has recommended the same approach for Moderna recipients. The vast majority of the 188 million Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have received the Pfizer or Moderna options, with J&J recipients accounting for only about 15 million of them.
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