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Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Boosters OK’d By Key Panel, But They Still Need Federal Approval

Officials hope the booster shots can increase the level of protection people have, though they’ve said the shots remain largely effective at preventing serious illness and death.

Doses of COVID-19 vaccines sit on a table at the mass vaccination site in the Jones Convocation Center on the campus of Chicago State University on April 7, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — An FDA advisory panel is recommending boosters be approved for adults who got Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

That doesn’t mean the boosters are approved, but it does move them a step closer to that. The panel recommended the shots be OK’d for people 18 and older starting two months after their first dose of the vaccine.

Officials hope the booster shots can increase the level of protection people have, though they’ve said the shots remain largely effective at preventing serious illness and death.

Officials have also suggested the government might approve boosters of other vaccines — from Moderna and Pfizer — for people who initially got a Johnson & Johnson shot. Preliminary data from a study showed people who got vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson and then got a Moderna booster saw a significantly larger boost to their antibody levels than those who got another Johnson & Johnson shot.

For now, only Pfizer boosters have been approved, and only for people who are 65 or older, people with underlying medical conditions and certain frontline workers. Those people must wait at least six months after their second Pfizer shot before getting a booster.

Officials are reviewing data for a Moderna booster, as well.

Eligible people can get approved booster shots through their primary care provider and at CVS pharmacies.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7.1 million people — or 56.12 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 27,051 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,994,065 vaccine doses of the 18,057,435 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.57 million Chicagoans — or 58.6 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 63.8 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Thirty Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Thursday.

• At least 25,407 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,790 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 2,413 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,665,777.

• Since Thursday, 147,978 tests were reported statewide. In all, 33,718,807 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 2 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.1 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.5 percent. It was at 2.6 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 341 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 172 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, five deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,841 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three deaths per day, down 14 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has 340 had confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 322,408 confirmed cases. An average of 320 confirmed cases are being reported per day, an 11 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is down 3 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2 percent, down from 2.2 percent the week prior.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers.

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