J&J vax question
July 1, 2021 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I got the J&J vaccine in March. Everyone around me has gotten Pfizer or Moderna. Everyone around me who hears I got the J&J is implying that I'm not really vaxxed because of the issues that came up with J&J after it had been administered for a while. I have no idea what to do.

Do I need to get re-vaccinated with one of the two-shot deals?

Do I still need to worry about blood clots so many months after I got the J&J? I have also been on birth control for 20 years which also carries a risk of clots (and was a smoker for much of that time because I'm dumb) and nothing has happened to me.

If neither of the above is true, how can I get people around me to STFU about me getting the "low-rent" COVID vaccine?
posted by nayantara to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It’s effective. You’re good. Millions of people have J&J and COVID symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths are disappearing in those areas. People don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re having trouble believing these vaccines work, generally, so they are trying to read too much into a various news reports about all the effectiveness rates. What you’re experiencing is like iPhone users teasing Android for not having a real phone. Just tease back.
posted by michaelh at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2021 [25 favorites]

My doctor said that what's most important is that it's effective at preventing severe disease/hospitalization/death. But it's also possible that guidance will change and people who got J&J will be offered a booster shot later this year. I do not think you have to worry about blood clots now.
posted by pinochiette at 9:38 AM on July 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Tell people that you got the first vaccine that was available to you. That was the best, safest, and smartest thing that you could do. If it is later determined that people vaccinated with J&J should get a booster of another vaccine, that advice will be put forward by the health authorities in your country. Until then, you have done the best thing you could do and they should STFU.
posted by heatherlogan at 9:40 AM on July 1, 2021 [44 favorites]

Also re the blood clot risk: what I've read about the AstraZeneca vaccine (similar tech and similar issue) is that the risk is within the first three weeks after vaccination and after that it basically vanishes. So you've likely been in the clear for at least 2 months now.
posted by heatherlogan at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

The JNJ vaccine is somewhat less effective against the Delta variant, compared to the MRNA based vaccines, but it is still a HUGE improvement over not being vaxxed.

Research is underway to determine what sort of boosters should be offered for each vaccine. I don’t believe there’s anything for you to do right now, but everyone (including Pfizer/Moderna folks) will likely get a booster at some point.

You don’t need to worry about blood clots at all; the few that happened were all under 2 weeks to the incident.

I… do not have social advice about people being elitist about which (free) vaccine we each received. That’s just too weird for me to process.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 9:45 AM on July 1, 2021 [7 favorites]

I think people are just parroting things they've heard because they don't know any better and are trying to figure out how to talk about this stuff. You yourself are good. If it were me I would just say "Nah, it's fine" and change the subject.
posted by bleep at 9:49 AM on July 1, 2021 [8 favorites]

From what I have been hearing lately, getting a mRNA vaccine shot is something you can do. I think it was mentioned on "In The Bubble" recently and while I haven't heard the episode that dropped yesterday, it looks like Walensky is going to address the J&J issue in it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2021

P.S. J&J is currently studying efficacy against the Delta variant, so there may be some more concrete information soon.
posted by pinochiette at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think you should feel free to be as rude as possible to people like that. You should probably avoid them as much as you can, because they are plainly stupid. I would be more to the point about this, but this isn't twitter dot com, after all.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 10:03 AM on July 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

I thing I didn't know is that J&J works VERY similarly to the 2 dose MRNA vaccines. Specifically, the J&J vaccine also has DNA to make your body make spike proteins, for your body to recognize and kill. The actual delivery is very, very similar.

And, the second dose of the "two dose" vaccines really doesn't change efficacy as much as people would think - studies have arrived that say that one dose is about 88% effective, to the two dose 95%.

But honestly, most people in my life don't know what vaccine I took. (I took two dose pfizer). I'm not sure why'd they care. You can just say "My doctor says it was safe". And of course you shouldn't get a second one!
posted by bbqturtle at 10:11 AM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If neither of the above is true, how can I get people around me to STFU about me getting the "low-rent" COVID vaccine?

An uncomfortably long stare, and then ask what medical school they went to. When they say they didn't, then say "Well, I think I'm better off taking advice from someone who did."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on July 1, 2021 [26 favorites]

You absolutely did the right thing to get the vaccination that was available to you at the time it was available to you. You are vaccinated!

No one knows yet what the recommended booster regimen is going to look like - maybe it will be different for people who took different vaccines, that wouldn't be shocking, but right now to the best of my knowledge there's not some existing best practice for a booster with an mRNA vaccine that you're blithely ignoring. It sounds as if you are fully vaccinated in line with the advice of your doctor and your country's health agencies. Anyone who gets weird about you not having the same vaccination they do, with one exception I'll note in a second, can fuck off and you are absolutely free to walk away from that conversation or shut it down.

Possible exception: People who are at a high risk themselves because they can't get vaccinated or have conditions that make their vaccinations not fully effective. The people like that in my own life aren't socializing with anyone yet, regardless of vaccinations, but when the time comes that they are starting to think about that I'd personally be completely chill about them being somewhat nosy about what vaccinations people have had and feeling more comfortable for their own safety being around people with the higher-efficacy ones. But I rather suspect we'll all be in booster territory by then. And in my life those are not the people being weird and judgy, they're just grateful you got vaccinated at all.

I haven't read anything about long-term concerns about blood clots past the first few weeks post-shot but that sounds like a good question to take to your doctor if it's weighing on you, just to get some professional advice to alleviate the worry.
posted by Stacey at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

J&J may have percentage rates that are slightly lower than other vaccines, but those numbers are not comparable because the studies are not the same.

In a few more months we may get some figures from the field but right now we just don't have comparable data to make judgments on, its all just conjecture not science.
posted by Lanark at 10:46 AM on July 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ask ‘em if they’ve ever had a tetanus or flu shot…and the what brand they got.

You’re good. If the recommendations change to getting a booster, get one. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 10:53 AM on July 1, 2021 [10 favorites]

Best answer: You're not going to win with people like these. Social media has led people to believe that Pfizer is the best vaccine and everything else is garbage, so even if you did get something other than the J&J you would still be getting grief from others.

We all want "our brand" to be The Best Brand and screw everyone else. Politics, sports teams, gaming consoles, and now freaking vaccinations. That's where we are at today.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:05 AM on July 1, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: If neither of the above is true, how can I get people around me to STFU about me getting the "low-rent" COVID vaccine?

Honestly, I'd tell them that they're being really shitty. It's okay to push back hard on this and be a humorless whatever about it.

Ask "Why do you think it's low rent. Explain it to me." And your response to their fumbled reasoning can be:
"Are you a biochemist? Immunologist? Physician? Epidemiologist? Then seriously, shut the fuck up."

We've all gone through a traumatic eighteen months where millions of people around the world died and others had their long-term health severely compromised. Medical care and scientific communications were hopelessly politicized. People in communities were fucking awful to each other. Entire industries have been damaged and untold numbers of people have been suddenly thrust into poverty.

Researchers were able to build off of prior mRNA and coronavirus research to get multiple types of vaccines developed and tested. The J&J vaccine is saving so many lives. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.
posted by desuetude at 11:23 AM on July 1, 2021 [14 favorites]

Here in the Netherlands, the J&J (or Janssen) is in high demand. We have more Pfizer and Moderna but people have been clamoring for the J&J. Two reasons mainly:
1) It is one-shot and people don't want the hassle. One shot and you are fully vaccinated. And off you go to live your vaccinated life.
2) Supposedly fewer side effects as well such as fevers.

The PM here got the Janssen for himself. I got the Janssen and a lot of people here have been envious when I told them. So it is all culturally relative I suppose.
posted by vacapinta at 11:45 AM on July 1, 2021 [16 favorites]

I got Janssen too. It doesn't matter. What matters is that as many people as possible get vaccinated as early as possible.

You got vaccinated. Hurray! You are good, and you're doing your part. That's what matters. Tell them to take a hike.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

The other option is to just flat out lie about which vax you had, it will shut them up and it doesnt make any difference.
posted by Lanark at 11:53 AM on July 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

People around you are wrong. Stop telling them which vaccine you got. If next year or in a couple years we learn there is a meaningful efficacy difference, you'll have the opportunity to get a booster or different vaccine. Don't sweat.
posted by latkes at 12:41 PM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

My general response when anyone says anything that flies in the face of general doctor-recommended treatments is usually something along the lines of "Oh, I didn't realize you finished your MD! Why didn't you tell me, I would have said congrats earlier!" I'd use the same to any vaxx-shaming people in my life (although i cant say I have any - most are just excited we're finally vaccinated!)
posted by cgg at 3:24 PM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

NYT: Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Protects Against Delta Variant, Company Reports

The vaccine showed a small drop in potency against the variant, compared with its effectiveness against the original virus, the company said. But the vaccine was more effective against the Delta variant than the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa — the pattern also seen with mRNA vaccines.

While blood antibody levels produced after immunization with Pfizer or Moderna drop after an initial surge, antibodies — and immune cells — stimulated by the J.&J. vaccine persist at high levels. (Other studies have shown that immune responses produced by mRNA vaccines are also likely to last for years.)

A dearth of information about the J.&J. vaccine had led many people to speculate that it might need to be supplemented with one dose of an mRNA vaccine. But at least for now, people who received the J.&J. vaccine should not need a booster, nor can they legally get one “unless they game the system, unless they pretend they’re vaccine-naïve and go and get an mRNA vaccine and essentially lie,” Dr. Moore said, “and I certainly don’t recommend people doing that.”

posted by jenfullmoon at 9:48 PM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

“I didn’t realise our personal medical history was open to public debate. But sure, let me weigh in on your recent Pap smear.”
posted by Jubey at 2:25 AM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I love how everybody's an epidemiologist now. Thanks for your concern, but I'm all set.
But, blah, blah...
Seriously, I'm happy to be vaccinated, I've researched the efficacy, and I'm done discussing it.
I know people who sought out the J&J vax. It's fully approved. If it turns out to be 1% less effective or whatever, it's still incredibly effective.
posted by theora55 at 6:49 AM on July 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

OP, thank you for asking this question. Now, thanks to EmpressCallipygos, I know how I'll answer pushback for getting the J&J vaccine. (Which, really? I couldn't get an appointment anywhere for my first Pfizer-Moderna shot, so I'm still happy I got my J&J shot at the extremely well-run drive-in clinic organized by the fire and rescue department of a nearby town.)

BTW, the link that JoeZydeco posted takes you to to this excellent article by economist Emily Oster, who points out that the Pfizer-Moderna and J&J vaccines did not undergo head-to-head trials. The J&J vaccine, in its separate trial, encountered more variants, which naturally reduced its apparent efficacy. But Oster notes that if the Pfizer-Moderna vaccines had run into more variants when they were being trialed, they might have shown similar numbers.
posted by virago at 6:36 AM on July 5, 2021

Washington Post: You had the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine. Should you try to get a booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna? Features a doctor who got both kinds after moving countries, which most people can't do. Notes that in the US if you already got a J&J you probably won't be allowed to get another version. Mostly just a whole lot of "we think it works, you probably don't need it, they're still studying everything" info.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:00 PM on July 5, 2021

NYT: Finally, Experts Break the Silence on J.&J. Boosters Written by someone who got J&J and then snuck off for two Pfizer shots because there just wasn't much information as to what was happening with J&J.
In general, I don’t think people like me, with no medical expertise whatsoever, should ignore expert guidance on vaccines because “I’ve done my own research” on the internet.
But the experts weren’t telling people who’d gotten J.&J. much of anything. I reached out to a couple of high-profile physicians and scientists, but they didn’t answer me, perhaps out of reluctance to provide untested medical advice.
Some other people were quietly doing the same thing I had. Right after getting the Pfizer shot, I called the J.&J. trial to confess, in case the people running it needed me to drop out. The person I spoke to said that while it wasn’t ideal, I should keep participating, and that I wasn’t the only volunteer who’d gone out and gotten a second vaccine.
For weeks, no one knew what that meant for the J.&J. vaccine. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, had the Johnson & Johnson shot, and has been hearing from people who’d also gotten it and were scared.
“I really don’t blame people — they keep hearing all this stuff about two shots, two shots, Delta, you need to be fully vaccinated,” she told me earlier this week. “And nobody’s really saying anything about Johnson & Johnson.” Many people, she said, “feel that they’ve been left behind because there really isn’t any new information coming out about it.”
On June 21, Rasmussen decided to get a Pfizer booster. At around the same time, Michael Z. Lin, a neurobiologist and bioengineer at Stanford, wrote a Twitter thread arguing that the C.D.C. should issue guidance on mRNA boosters for people who’d received J.&J. A couple of days later, Andy Slavitt, until recently a senior adviser to Joe Biden’s pandemic response team, put out an episode of his podcast titled, “The Delta Variant Question No One Will Answer,” addressing those who’d received Johnson & Johnson and were wondering about getting another shot. He was equivocal: either wait for the data, or “go ahead and take a Pfizer or Moderna shot.”
Mostly, at a time when no one was talking about J.&J. boosters, I didn’t want to be an anomaly. I wanted the full Pfizer course because I didn’t want to worry about whether new findings about mRNA effectiveness against the variants applied to me.
Nothing bad happened, but the experts I spoke to said the third shot was unnecessary, and that there’s a point after which too much immune stimulation can be harmful. “There’s no pressing reason to go beyond a single RNA booster,” Lin told me.
Indeed, there may be no reason to get a booster at all. On Thursday evening, with discussion of boosting J.&J. all over the media, Johnson & Johnson released data showing that its vaccine retains most of its effectiveness against the Delta variant. “Booster shots seem unnecessary, at least for now,” The New York Times reported.
It would be nice to have guidance on this from the C.D.C., but we shouldn’t expect it anytime soon. In the absence of data, Slavitt said, it would be irresponsible for the C.D.C. to make a recommendation. “People want the science to tell us exactly what to do,” Slavitt said. “When we say, ‘Follow the science,’ the reality is the science doesn’t always know.”
So as with many other aspects of this pandemic, people have to figure things out for themselves. Slavitt said one of his sons was vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson and is planning to get an mRNA booster. But, he adds, people who do the same should know they’re doing it at their own risk.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:15 AM on July 6, 2021

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