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FDA panel endorses booster shot for J&J COVID vaccine

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WASHINGTON — 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.

J&J has requested 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 same committee on Thursday recommended Moderna booster shots to people ages 65 and older and other high-risk adults, in line with guidelines for Pfizer’s vaccine.

The FDA usually follows the advice of the committee, and a final decision by its regulators could come within days. The agency is not the final go-ahead, however. Next week, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine advisory group will decide who should get the extra J&J shots. If it issues a recommendation and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signs off, booster shots could begin immediately.


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