If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, new research shows you are better off switching brands for your booster.
The Duke study comes one month after the CDC flat out recommended the two mRNA vaccines over the J&J shot.
Nearly a half million people in North Carolina have gotten vaccinated with the single-dose J&J shot.
But new research from Duke University shows J&J recipients who mix their vaccines – and get boosted with Pfizer or Moderna instead of a second J&J shot – have 10 times the level of antibodies against omicron.
“We expect the boost with the J&J vaccine is still going to be very effective. Probably not as effective as the boost with the mRNA vaccine,” said Dr. David Montefiori of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.
Montefiori studies the impact of COVID variants on antibody levels. With omicron, he says a booster is essential for all three vaccines.
“The levels of these antibodies we see after two doses of a vaccine or a single dose of J&J are very, very low and most people don’t have the neutralizing antibodies to omicron after the primary series of vaccinations,” he said.
But after a boost, the study shows a potential 20-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies.
“In my opinion, fully vaccinated now with Omicron means that you have been boosted,” he said.
Montefiori says the current vaccines are still highly effective at keeping people out of the hospital. But the research must continue for every new variant that pops up.
“We are getting very close to the time where if a variant emerges that is any worse than omicron – in terms of its ability to escape the vaccines — it might be time to adjust the vaccines, to modify the vaccines to counter the new variant but we are not there yet,” he said.
Only 45% of vaccinated people in North Carolina have returned for their booster shot. Those who received the J&J should get boosted two months after their initial vaccines. Those vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer should get boosted after 5 months.