A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted unanimously Friday that allowing adults who were initially vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine against COVID-19 to get a booster is safe and effective, freeing the agency to authorize its use.
The committee’s recommendation is to offer a booster to people 18 and older at least two months after their first shot. If the FDA follows the advice of the committee, which it is not required to do but often does, it means that all three COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the U.S. have authorized boosters, with the caveat that there are restrictions in place on who can get a mRNA booster.
The vaccines developed by Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +0.52% and German partner BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +2.25% and Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +3.78% are based on mRNA technology. Those are being reserved for now for people 65 and over, adults who are at high risk of severe disease, and those who face higher exposure to the virus because of their jobs. About 15 million people in the U.S. have received the J&J’s /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ -0.09% adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine.
Colin Powell, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents in war and peace but whose sterling reputation was forever stained when he went before the U.N. and made faulty claims to justify the U.S. war in Iraq, has died of COVID-19 complications at the age of 84, the Associated Press reported.
Powell, a four-star Army general who went on to serve as national-security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, had been treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. While Powell was fully vaccinated, he also suffered from multiple myeloma, according to NBC News, a type of blood cancer that damages the body’s ability to fight infections.
Health experts were quick to point out that breakthrough infections are rare but are to be expected given that the vaccines are not 100% effective. And seniors with compromised immune systems are going to be at greater risk, which is why the booster program has been implemented.
Others noted that vaccines continue to be the best protection against severe COVID and death and that most of the current cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people.
An unvaccinated Virginia couple in their 40s recently died of COVID-19, leaving behind four children — and the father with one tragic regret before he succumbed, the New York Post reported.
“He called me up and said, ‘Mom, I love you, and I wish that I’d got the shot,’ ” said Terry Mitchem, the mother of Kevin Mitchem, to NBC 4 in Washington, D.C.
She and other relatives of Kevin Mitchem and his late wife, Misty, are now urging those who have to be vaccinated to get immunized. “Please get it,” Kevin’s father, Don Mitchem, reportedly told the TV station.
The U.S. is averaging more than 1,500 deaths a day at present, according to a New York Times tracker, down 19% from two weeks ago. Cases and hospitalizations are also declining, although hot spots, like Alaska and Minnesota, are still struggling with high caseloads.
Counties in the country’s northernmost regions are seeking rising cases as cold weather arrives and drives people back into indoor settings, the Times reported.