Experts are urging those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to get the booster shot as soon as possible after a new study showed a drop in its effectiveness during the Delta variant surge.
An FDA advisory committee unanimously endorsed the emergency authorization of the J&J booster on Friday, amid fears that the vaccine may be less effective than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Officials recommend that all those who received the shot get a booster two months after.
“J&J is a very good vaccine. I also believe it’s probably a two-shot vaccine,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN. “It’s really urgent that people get that second shot pretty quickly.”
A new study published Thursday that is yet to be peer-reviewed analyzed 620,000 military veterans who received the J&J vaccine this year and found that effective protection fell precipitously from 88 percent in March to just 3 percent in August.
Vaccine protection fell among other vaccines as well, but far less dramatically — with Moderna’s falling from 92 percent to 64 percent, and Pfizer’s from 91 percent to 50 percent during that same time period, the study said.
“I think anybody who’s gotten one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can benefit from a second dose of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Saturday.
Offit added that if the J&J vaccine had not been rushed for emergency approval, it likely would have been a two-shot vaccine.
According to the CDC, over 15 million Americans have received the J&J vaccine, with over 90 percent of them administered in the last two months.
On Thursday, the FDA panel also unanimously endorsed approval of a Moderna half-dose booster shot for at-risk Americans that received their second vaccination shot at least six months ago. “At-risk” would apply to adults 65 years and older as well as adults ages 18 and up who may have other health conditions, jobs, or living situations that put them that at greater risk of infection.
The FDA authorized a Pfizer booster last month for the same at-risk groups that the panel determined should also get the Moderna booster.