FDA panel endorses booster shot for J&J COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

FILE – In this March 3, 2021 file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. U.S. health advisers are meeting Friday, Oct. 15, to tackle who needs boosters of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine and when. Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration also will examine data suggesting that booster of a competing brand might provide better protection. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of U.S. 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.

In Colorado, 259,000 patients have received the J&J vaccine so far.

J&J has asked the Food and Drug Administration for flexibility with its booster, arguing the extra dose adds important protection as early as two months after initial vaccination — but that it might work better if people wait until six months later.

The FDA’s advisory panel voted unanimously that a booster should be offered without setting a firm time. The advisers cited growing worry 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 ultimate decision could help expand the nation’s booster campaign.

The government says all three U.S. vaccines continue to 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 COVID-19, and the FDA advisory panel has recommended the same approach for Moderna recipients.

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