SAN ANTONIO — The Johnson and Johnson booster vaccine is approaching final approval, which has local health experts optimistic about the future of vaccination rates in the community.
“I was glad to see that the FDA advisory committee had recommended the booster. Apparently, the data is so strong that it will likely be considered a two-dose vaccine in the future,” said Dr. Robert Leverence, UT Health’s chief medical officer.
The FDA advisory panel voted in favor of authorizing the Johnson and Johnson boosters to people two months after their first vaccination.
The FDA will now have to provide official authorization before people can start receiving the booster.
Among the big three coronavirus vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson has fared the worst against coronavirus hospitalizations at 71% effectiveness compared to Moderna’s 93%.
“We know that these vaccines wane in their effectiveness with time,” Leverence said.
More than 15 million Americans who received the single-dose shot are awaiting the formal recommendations for the booster.
Data revealed a second of the Johnson and Johnson would boost immune response, increasing protection from 70-94%.
WellMed has administered several hundred thousand vaccinations with just between 10-15% being Johnson and Johnson.
“A minority of my patients received Johnson and Johnson but those that have asked about boosters,” said Dr. Michael Almaleh.
Health experts like Dr. Almaleh and Dr. Leverence are encouraged by the progress of vaccines and boosters being approved for an expanding demographic; with young children being the next major group to target.
“I think it’s very possible that we’re going to see a small wave in this coming winter but I think our vaccination efforts that we’ve been working really hard at over the past year is what’s going to prevent us from getting a big spike like we saw last winter," Dr. Almaleh said.