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Only immunocompromised people 'officially' eligible for booster shots

Johnson & Johnson announced a second shot offers stronger protection against COVID-19.

TAMPA, Fla. — Johnson & Johnson says a booster shot provides stronger protection against COVID-19.

In a Phase 3 study, the company said that the second shot of its vaccine received 56 days after the first provided 94% protection against COVID-19 in the United States. It added that it offers full protection against severe/critical cases of COVID-19 at least 14 days post-final vaccination.

READ:  J&J: Booster dose of its COVID shot prompts strong response

For many of the 14.8 million Americans who received the single-dose shot, a route to stronger immunity is welcomed news.

"When I heard Pfizer was coming out with a booster and I hadn't heard about J & J, I called and asked, hey should I try and get a Pfizer booster," Sharon Sloboda who received her shot back in March said.

Sloboda's doctor didn't advise getting a different vaccine and instead encouraged her to hang tight.

Dr. Kami Kim, an Infectious Disease Physician at the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital, isn't surprised by the data.

"It's encouraging and it gives a path to people who got J & J to have a shot as effective as the others," Dr. Kim said.

Regardless of which vaccine you received, the exact timeline on boosters is still unknown.

RELATED: How necessary are COVID booster vaccines?

So far, only those with compromised immune systems are officially eligible for the third dose of Moderna or Pfizer. Patients at Moffitt Cancer Center fall into this category.

"They need a third dose to get them to the full 80 plus percent protection to give them the maximum benefit," Dr. John Greene, an Infectious Diseases Physician at Moffitt Cancer Center, said.

"All cancer patients can basically be considered immune suppressed, top priority are hematological malignancy and those that have active cancer and are getting active cancer treatment," Greene, who opted to get a third shot himself, said, using his own medical discretion to make the call.

Dr. Kim also says people should weigh their risks and talk with their healthcare provider about getting a booster before it's officially recommended.

"Some people's jobs put them at a certain level of risk," Dr. Kim said.

The CDC is expected to look at official booster recommendations as early as Wednesday.

RELATED: US panel backs COVID-19 boosters only for people who are elderly or high-risk

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