Riverside health expert explains timetable, process for Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster

COVID-19 Vaccine

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Another company is vying to provide that booster shot against COVID-19.

Johnson & Johnson filed for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine booster on Tuesday.

“Johnson & Johnson sent data to the FDA along with a request to add a booster dose to their Emergency Use Authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine,” said Kathy Koehl, system director for Clinical Pharmacy Services for Riverside.

She says the process will look very similar to what happened with Pfizer a few weeks ago. The company submits data to the FDA, then it goes to the Centers for Disease Control and its advisory committee, and then boosters can be administered.

“Each vaccine has to be reviewed based on its individual merit,” said Koehl.

Johnson & Johnson has not specified when they think people should get a booster, but has data for two options, according to Koehl.

“At two months after the initial dose, antibodies increased four-fold,” said Koehl. “When we waited and gave the second dose or booster dose at six months, the antibodies increased 12-fold. So they’re submitting this, all of this data to the FDA and they’re partnering with the FDA to really ask the question ‘Based on the data we’ve collected, what is the optimal interval?'”

They’re also determining who should get the booster.

Koehl says that’s a decision made by the company, the FDA, and the CDC altogether.

“Because they really have to critically evaluate data and determine who seems to need the booster, who seems to benefit the most from the booster and that will be unique with each vaccine that’s being reviewed,” she said.

She also says the discussion surrounding boosters for Johnson & Johnson does not have to do with efficacy.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not really have waning effectiveness over time, not that we’re seeing in the real world data, however their booster dose data is really intended to improve their efficacy from about 70% initially, and then we see about 68% a few months after vaccine, to boost that to maybe 94% efficacy,” Koehl said.

She encourages people to speak with their doctor if they are eligible for a booster or soon become eligible.

“We gave almost 5,000 COVID vaccine doses with Pfizer last week,” Koehl said. “Most of those are booster doses and we expect that by the end of the week, we will have administered another 3,000 doses.”

She expects healthcare providers to be able to administer boosters of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting at the end of the month.

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