CLEVELAND — The optimism in late spring and early summer has all but evaporated because of the delta variant, which has fueled surges of new coronavirus cases nationwide. As federal leaders and regulators continue to evaluate the efficacy of potential vaccine booster shots, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been notably absent from those discussions.
President Biden is expected to detail on Thursday a six-pronged strategy to combat the surging number of coronavirus cases nationwide, which is due in large part to the highly contagious delta variant. In August, Biden publicly announced his desire to have both Moderna and Pfizer booster shots available by Sept. 20, assuming the booster shots were approved by federal regulators.
However, as the FDA continues to collect data from both Moderna and Pfizer, it appears that the deadline may pass. Dr. Keith Armitage, an infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals, said data and research coming out of Israel has convinced him that booster shots are certainly coming down the pike.
“What we’ve learned from COVID — and remember COVID is a new disease — these are vaccines that the immunity seems to wane after about 6-8 months, particularly with some of the new variants, and would benefit from a booster,” Dr. Armitage said. “The FDA wants to be data driven. They want to do the same thing with boosters. Just don’t run into it willy nilly. Be deliberative and careful and look at the data. Having said that, I would predict that they will recommend boosters fairly soon.”
Absent from the conversations have been discussions about the future of boosters for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was the last vaccine to receive emergency authorization from the FDA.
Don Baur, of Eastlake, 71, received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March. Following the leading guidance of doctors and researchers, he could potentially need a booster shot in November. However, it is unclear when or if that will happen.
"I’m ready for the Johnson if it’s going to be available. But I’ve been taking precautions with a mask and washing my hands and staying out of the crowds," Baur said.