CLEVELAND — Johnson & Johnson is the latest company to join the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot conversation.
The company released new data Tuesday saying a second dose of its vaccine dramatically increases protection against the virus.
It's the news many people who got the single-dose vaccine have been waiting for.
“I honestly can't wait for it. As soon as it's available again, I will be hopefully first in line to get it,” said Andrew Misiak, of Ashtabula County, who got the vaccine back in March.
“I was willing to get a shot in April. Why would I not be okay getting another one,” said Mark Moster, of Euclid.
Johnson & Johnson said one shot of its vaccine still works to prevent hospitalizations, but the new data shows two shots given two months apart give 94% protection against symptomatic cases, up from 74% with one dose.
However, previous data shows a booster shot given six months after the first dose resulted in even higher antibody levels.
Now, that data is in the FDA's hands for review which will decide if boosters will be made available for folks who want them.
“I think it was always sort of expected that eventually, this information would come down the road,” said Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “I think what will be really interesting, especially with the separation between the two doses, is how much longer-lasting immunity might be because you've allowed time for immune cell maturation between the first and second dose. It'll be interesting to watch all these different natural experiments play out.”
Edwards said that judgment from the FDA is likely some time off, but when or if it makes recommendations for boosters, those who are hesitant to get it will have more data to draw from when making their decision.
“They actually have comparative, head-to-head data looking at a single shot and double shot. So they'll literally be able to stratify, you know, ‘I'm 21% less effective or less protected,’ or whatever when they make these decisions about whether to get that second shot,” said Edwards.
Misiak and Moster said they’ve already made up their minds.
“If you were willing to get the vaccine in the first place, why not do a booster if that's what scientists are saying should be done,” said Moster.
“It's just one more shot. It's really harmless. It's very minimal pain. And you're going to protect yourself and your family. And that's really the most important thing,” said Misiak.
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