University hospital workers who have received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will have to be boosted by Christmas Eve.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine has been proven to provide a lower level of protection against the new coronavirus than the two-shot vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. University Hospital President and CEO Dr. Sheriff Elnahal said executives at the 519-bed State Academic Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey decided employees who opted for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine needed stronger protection from the virus.
“We really felt that we needed each of our employees to be much closer to the 90% plus efficiency range and to be protected from infection so that we completely minimize the risk of nosocomial transmission,” Elnahal said. The university hospital employs 3,700 people, including 785 clinical staff and almost 650 medical residents.
University Hospital announced the introduction of the workplace vaccine in June. Before the introduction of the policy, about half of the staff had been immunized; by August this share exceeded 90%, NJ Advance Media reported… Last month, the hospital fired several employees who received fake vaccination cards and lied about their status.
Earlier this month, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved J&J boosters. Johnson & Johnson has presented evidence to agencies showing that its vaccine is 94% effective when combined with booster, roughly equivalent to the protection that Modern and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provide. Johnson & Johnson’s disposable vaccine is 71% effective, compared to 93% for Moderna and 88% for Pfizer-BioNTech. According to CDC…
About 270 university hospitals have chosen the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and must now take an additional dose of any of three vaccines available in the US, Elnahal said. The workers must obey or be punished by December 24. The hospital has benefits for medical and religious reasons.
The university hospital adopted the directive after gaining widespread support from trade unions, government regulators and health experts, Elnahal said.
But New Jersey’s largest health workers union was unaware of the university hospital’s plans, said Debbie White, a nurse and president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees. According to her, the union will demand additional information from the hospital.
“As a union, we will continue to advocate for the interests of our members to protect their rights and health,” White said.
More than 15 million US residents have received a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, according to the CDC. Both the FDA and CDC have allowed Johnson & Johnson recipients to booster another COVID-9 vaccine.
The University Hospital is refraining from introducing additional boosters for employees choosing Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech. The hospital is still collecting information about the effectiveness of these injections, Elnahal said.
“We are tracking breakthrough infections among our employees by vaccine type,” Elnahal said. The university hospital will evaluate each vaccine separately, he said.