July 7, 2021, 8:25 a.m. EDT

As worries emerge about the delta variant and the J&J shot, health officials — and, so far, the research — say the vaccinated are still protected

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Jaimy Lee

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One caveat to consider for all mix-and-match studies is that much of the research so far is based on a small number of participants. The J&J and Moderna research examined sera in eight patients, while the U.K. study has about 800 participants.

“Whether or not we can definitively say is always going to be caveated by the fact that a lot of these studies, just given the pressure under which they’re being conducted, are pretty small,” said Dr. Amit Phull, an emergency-room physician and vice president of strategy and insights at Doximity Inc. /zigman2/quotes/227698050/composite DOCS -4.60% , a social platform for physicians. 

Still, getting another shot is allowed, legally, even with the Food and Drug Administration and other federal health officials not expected to issue recommendations, especially without strong clinical data.

“We still need to remember that in fact the J&J vaccine is a highly effective vaccine,” Fauci said. “There’s no real fundamental scientific reason to do that right now. When those data become available, you will see recommendations change according to the data.”

“If it were me, and I had gotten the J&J, and I lived in California, as I do, I would not get another shot,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I’m going to figure that I’m partly protected against it and fairly well-protected against getting supersick and dying. I’m also going to reflect on the fact that I’m living in a state with a high vaccination rate.”

As of Friday, California’s full vaccination rate sits at nearly 60%. In San Francisco, it’s higher, at 67%

The delta variant is responsible for renewed mitigation measures

Even in California, there is growing concern about the variant. Los Angeles County on Monday began urging people to wear masks in shared indoor places even if they are vaccinated, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week told people in the state to carry a mask with them when they leave home.

“I would encourage everybody whether you’re vaccinated or not to bring your mask with you,” Pritzker said Monday. 

That said, the idea that mitigation measures like wearing masks in shared indoor spaces or social-distancing standards could come back is likely to meet opposition in some parts of the country due to the politicization of the pandemic.

“If we start seeing a very large uptick in cases, and particularly if there’s a large uptick in hospitalizations, you’ll see the red-blue divide play itself out, and you’ll see states like California and New York go back to some more vigorous requirements,” Wachter said. “But, even there, I think they’re going to be hesitant to do that.”

Elsewhere, the World Health Organization this week also told people to continue masking, with Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, summing up the delta variant as the “most able and fastest and fittest of those viruses” on June 21.

The rise of the delta variant is behind new lockdown measures in Israel, Portugal, Australia, Malaysia and the U.K.

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