Article published October 19, 2021
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The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine is a single-dose vaccine that can protect against COVID-19. This vaccine is the third COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in the United States.
The effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested in a clinical trial of more than 40,000 people, yielding results that the vaccine can protect against mild to critical cases of COVID-19. The J&J vaccine also protects against several viral variants.
The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted on Friday, October 15, to unanimously recommend that the FDA authorize a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 18. More than 15 million Americans have already received their initial dose of this vaccine. The committee also recommends that the booster be given at least two months after the first dose.
The FDA has already issued emergency use authorization (EUAs) for boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for some adults at higher risk. Still, the FDA is to decide whether or not to accept the advisory committee's recommendation to authorize a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
The reason to discuss booster shots comes from concerns about waning levels of protection against COVID-19 even after vaccination. We know that rates of COVID-19 and related deaths are much lower in vaccinated people than those who are unvaccinated. Still, studies show that the risk of infection increases the further people get from their vaccination date.
For instance, data shows that a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine offers 72 percent protection against moderate to critical COVID-19 up to 28 days after vaccination. However, around four months, this level of protection against infection drops to 42.2 percent. These rates may be due to vaccine-resistant variants in areas outside of the United States.
U.S. clinical trial data shows that a two-month booster of the J&J vaccine provides nearly 94 percent protection against a moderate to critical COVID-19 infection. This level of protection makes it almost as effective as the protection offered by two doses of the mRNA vaccines. The data also suggests that getting a booster six months after the initial dose provides a more potent immune boost than the two-month interval.
It's important to note that this data comes from immunological readings on only 17 people, so the information is still limited.
Dr. Amanda Cohn of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is simply not as effective as the mRNA vaccines without a booster. The advisory committee recommends that people who received a single dose of the J&J vaccine be able to increase their immunity with the option of a booster.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already issued emergency use authorization (EUAs) for boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for some people. The existing emergency use authorizations of these vaccines have been updated to allow the use of a single booster dose in people who are:
- ages 65 and older
- ages 18 through 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19
- ages 18 through 64 who are at higher risk of contracting an infection due to occupation or living conditions
Eligible people can get a booster at least six months after the second dose of their vaccine. People at high risk of severe COVID-19 are older adults and people who work in healthcare, education, grocery workers, and homeless shelters or prisons.
People with weakened immune systems can also get a third dose of an mRNA vaccine in the United States.
Hashimoto's patients do not necessarily have a weakened immune system. Indeed, those with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto's thyroiditis have the opposite immune response. Those with an autoimmune disease typically have an overactive immune system rather than a weakened immune system.
Still, having one autoimmune condition can put patients at risk for another autoimmune disease that does weaken the immune system or require immunosuppressant medication.
People with Hashimoto's disease do not necessarily have a weakened immune system. Still, they may be at risk for having another health condition that causes them to be immunocompromised.
Booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available to high-risk individuals like health care workers and older adults. Most thyroid patients do not require a booster shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at this time.
The FDA is still deciding whether to accept the advisory committee's recommendation to authorize a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Should it be confirmed, all 15 million Americans who have already received their initial dose of this vaccine should be eligible—including thyroid patients.
A note from Paloma Health
In the meantime, we recommend you follow the CDC for up-to-date information. To determine your specific need for additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, please get in touch with your health provider.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccinations, please visit: