U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said on Aug. 22 that people who have received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine will likely need COVID-19 booster shots, after other federal health officials and he said days ago that those who got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would be recommended to get a third shot starting in September.
“We believe that J&J recipients will likely need a booster, but we are waiting on some data from the company about a second dose of J&J, so the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] can fully evaluate the safety and efficacy of that dose,” Murthy said in a CNN interview.
More data and studies are required, he said, noting when they’re completed, “we can present that to the FDA, and they can also review it for safety.”
“And so as soon as those studies are done, we’ll have more to recommend to J&J recipients about the timing of a booster and which shot they should get,” Murthy said.
When asked about whether it’s safe to administer a booster shot during a separate ABC News interview on Aug. 22, Murthy said that the J&J booster shot is contingent “on the FDA and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Advisory Committee doing their full and independent evaluation.”
Neither agency has approved booster shots for the other vaccines, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month said that third Pfizer and Moderna shots can be given to people with compromised immune systems.
About a week ago, Murthy was joined by CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, and Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet Woodcock in saying that federal health agencies will push for booster doses on Sept. 20. Walenksy, during a press conference, cited three studies published by the CDC that show mRNA vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 dropped in July.
Some experts, including one of the developers of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, said that trying to work toward “herd immunity” isn’t possible with the virus, as it will constantly mutate and breach vaccine protection.
“I think [herd immunity] is a pretty distant prospect and we need to get used to the concept that this will become what we call an endemic disease rather than a pandemic disease,” Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said on Aug. 10. “A disease that is with us all the time—probably transmits seasonally a bit like influenza where we see winter outbreaks.”