Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

Dear Neighbor,

As the Delta Variant spreads and stories of breakthrough Covid-19 infections multiply, many are left worried and wondering if they will need some sort of booster shot, particularly those among us who got the “one and done” Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced that vaccinated Americans should return to wearing masks inside.

Our heads are spinning too.

Clear Health Costs, a journalism company dedicated to bringing more transparency to the healthcare marketplace, and one of Epicenter-NYC’s vaccine-effort partners, did some digging into the matter. Allow us to summarize:

There’s a whole lot of conflicting information out there, even within the healthcare community. 

Dr. Vin Gupta, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, tweeted on June 28: “Since I’ve seen this advice be given multiple times privately:

“If you received the 1-dose J&J, go and get 1-shot of Pfizer or Moderna as a ‘booster’ when you’re able. Most I know who got J&J are doing it and are telling others the same — since two seems better than 1 re: delta.”

Photo courtesy of Dr. Vin Gupta / @VinGuptaMD

Yet just a week earlier, on July 21, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, under questioning from Norah O’Donnell at CBS News, said people who got J&J don’t need to go get Pfizer or Moderna. It’s the second question Norah O’Donnell asked him in this clip.

So … what should you do?

Dr. Mark Horowitz, a family physician who practices in Manhattan who Epicenter turns to often, said to sit tight.

“At this time, there is sufficient evidence that all three of the currently available Covid vaccines in the U.S. provide substantial, durable protection against all currently identified variants, including the Delta variant.”

However, he said that as the virus continues to mutate, boosters, or vaccine reformulation may be necessary. And at this time, there is a general consensus, including within the Biden administration, that people with weakened immune systems will require a booster in the next three to six months.

He promised to keep us informed and we will do the same with you.

But what if you really want that additional shot?

You may or may not be able to get it. Some individuals who received the J&J shot were turned away when they tried for an additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna. Others have managed to receive it by registering under a false name; no one in New York State is required to supply documents proving that they are New York residents or even fully documented to be in the United States.

Let us be clear that we are not endorsing this route, and it brings up several ethical questions, as much of the world remains unable to access any vaccine at all. As always, we recommend that you consult with your doctor when making these decisions. Or email us and we can put you in touch with a doctor or health-care professional.

That being said, the mixing of vaccines is gaining popularity.

Israel recently began offering a Pfizer booster shot, and in Germany, it’s being recommended that those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca should get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose.

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