Dear Dr. Roach: Can you tell me why the Johnson & Johnson vaccinations only requires one shot to be considered fully vaccinated as opposed to the others that require two shots? I understand some vaccinations require a booster shot. But usually it’s months or a year or two before the second one is required, if I remember giving my kids their vaccinations and the scheduling requirements. And no, I’m not vaccinated yet.

I have trouble with things that are being shoved down my throat, requiring me to sign off on my rights, as this obviously hasn’t been put through normal tests. I didn’t have to sign off on any vaccinations for all three of my children, so I’m not sure why they’re expecting me to sign off on these ones – other than the fact that they’ve been rushed and the manufacturing companies don’t want to be liable for the mistakes that they’ve possibly made. – B.E.

Answer: Many vaccines require multiple doses. Maybe you’ve forgotten, but hepatitis B is three shots; DTaP is five shots; polio is four shots for the primary sequence. Our immune system is very good, but repeated exposure to a germ helps our immune system learn how to fight off invaders.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a viral vector technology, different from the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which use mRNA. All three of those vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19. Early data from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed very high effectiveness after one dose. However, data presented in October showed that giving a booster shot after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine dramatically improved the immune response. Giving a second dose of Johnson & Johnson increased the neutralizing antibody level in the blood more than fourfold. However, giving a booster dose of the Moderna vaccine to people who had a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine increased the neutralizing antibodies by 75-fold.

I do understand that nobody likes to be forced to get a medical procedure done, especially one, like COVID-19 vaccines, that has not been around a long time. There are some important reasons why you should still get it. The most important is that COVID-19 has killed over 5 million people worldwide as of this writing, including more than 800,000 in the U.S.

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