FDA advisory committee recommended approval of J&J vaccine

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Experts are urging anyone who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine to get a booster shot after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee unanimously voted to recommend a second dose to everyone 18 and up.

The advisory committee, made up of an array of public health experts, announced on Friday that all adults who were vaccinated with the one-dose vaccine get a second shot at least two months after their first. 

One study, released Thursday but not peer-reviewed, tracked more than 620,000 military veterans who received the vaccine and found that protection fell from 88% in March to just 3% in August. 

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‘There is a public health imperative here, because what we’re seeing is that this is a group with overall lower efficacy than we have seen with the mRNA vaccines,’ Dr. Arnold Monto, the committee’s acting chairman and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health said.

‘So there is some urgency there to do something.’ 

The Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended that all adults be advised to receive a booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended that all adults be advised to receive a booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine

Nearly 15 million Americans have received the J&J vaccine was first approved in February

Nearly 15 million Americans have received the J&J vaccine was first approved in February

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Following the FDA advisory committee's unanimous vote, the FDA now has to make a decision but it expected to follow the committee's suggestion

Following the FDA advisory committee’s unanimous vote, the FDA now has to make a decision but it expected to follow the committee’s suggestion

In comparison, Moderna’s vaccine effectiveness fell from 92% to 64% and Pfizer’s vaccine protection dropped from 91% to 50%. 

Nearly 15 million Americans received the J&J vaccine, with nearly 91% of them having gotten the shot more than two months ago, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

COVID vaccine booster shots are being recommended even though cases of infections have been dropping after a summer surge caused by the Delta variant. Experts point to CDC data that shows unvaccinated adults are 11 times more likely to die of COVID than vaccinated adults.

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‘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. 

On Thursday, the FDA advisory committee recommended booster shots of Moderna to those over the age of 65 but the agency delayed its decision to authorize the COVID vaccine for teenagers and younger adults. 

The FDA will now consider the advisory committee’s recommendations on the J&J and Moderna COVID booster shots to make an official decision. If the FDA accepts the recommendation, which it is expected to do, booster shots could be made available as soon as next week. 

The FDA previously authorized booster shots of the Pfizer COVID vaccine to those 65 years old and above or any adult who is considered ‘high-risk’ due to their living, work, or health conditions. 

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COVID booster shots are being recommended as the Delta variant continues to spread

COVID booster shots are being recommended as the Delta variant continues to spread

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 353,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported this year, topping the 352,000 recorded in 2020

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 353,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported this year, topping the 352,000 recorded in 2020 

Recent CDC data has shown unvaccinated adults are 11 times more likely to die of COVID than those who are vaccinated

Recent CDC data has shown unvaccinated adults are 11 times more likely to die of COVID than those who are vaccinated 

‘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. 

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He believes that the J&J vaccine would have been initially recommended as a two-dose vaccine if it had not been created in a time of such urgency. 

The study  of military veterans concluded that: ‘Vaccines remain the most important tool to prevent infection, severe illness, and death, but vaccines should be accompanied by additional measures, including masking, hand washing, physical distancing, and other public health interventions, in the face of increased risk of infection due to the Delta variant.’ 

The FDA advisory committee also discussed the possibility of mixing and matching booster shots, which they said would allow flexibility and potentially give those with one dose of J&J better immunity, during Friday’s meeting.  

However, some were skeptical about combining vaccines due to the limited data on the matter. 

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