FDA advisory committee votes to approve Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster shots

The outside panel of experts voted unanimously in favor of offering booster doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months after the first dose.

Those who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine are one step closer to being able to get a booster.

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory unanimously voted in favor of recommending booster doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday for everyone 18 and older at least two months after the first dose.

Related: FDA advisory committee votes to approve Moderna vaccine booster shots for vulnerable groups

The unanimous support came after a day of tough questions for Johnson & Johnson. The company argued that while its initial effectiveness is lower than the MRNA vaccines, it remains steady and a booster would increase it.

“We have seen in our randomized controlled trials efficacy against severe disease 74%, efficacy against any disease 70%,” said Dr. Penny Heaton. “There’s clearly room to improve that.”

The FDA fired back.

“There are data to suggest the effectiveness of this vaccine is actually less robust than the company’s presentation here,” said Dr. Peter Marks. “That is a finding of concern.”

Many on the expert panel argued Johnson & Johnson should actually be a two-dose vaccine.

“I think this, frankly, was always a two-dose vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offit. “I think it’s better as a two-dose vaccine. It’d be hard to recommend it as a single dose vaccine.”

Other pointed to the advantage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine around the world.

“It is important to remember that there are many people who cannot get vaccines at all and this one can go places and do things and is highly effective,” said Dr. Oveta Fuller.

There are still lingering concerns about the risk of a rare blood clotting problem that occurred primarily in younger women. No cases of the clotting were seen in those who received a booster.

The FDA and CDC still need to give their approval to Johnson & Johnson boosters.

COVID-19 Discussion Forum:

Join our dedicated space to discuss the pandemic. You’re invited to share questions, experiences, insights and opinions.

Join the conversation here.

About the Authors:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.