New post by Dr. Alex Lickerman: Should you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

April 2, 2021 • 10:00 am

Dr. Alex Lickerman, my GP, has a new post on his website about the coronavirus and vaccines, the twelfth since he began posting during the pandemic. Click on the screenshot below to read it (it’s free).

The short answer to the title question is “yes”, but there are lots of other questions answered (and some raised without known answers). One is whether you can be an asymptomatic carrier if you’ve been vaccinated. Alex’s answer:

The study didn’t present enough data to prove the vaccine prevents asymptomatic infection. Nor did it assess whether subjects who developed COVID-19 despite vaccination are less likely to transmit the virus. Thus, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccine will be in containing the spread of the infection. (A recent study from the CDC, however, strongly suggests that both mRNA vaccines—Pfizer’s and Moderna’s—do indeed prevent even asymptomatic COVID-19 infection by 90 percent in real-world circumstances, which is great news. We need more studies to learn if this is also the case for J & J’s vaccine.)

15 thoughts on “New post by Dr. Alex Lickerman: Should you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

  1. J&J just recently had a fowl up at the site where they were making the vaccine and mixed another one with it. Had to destroy a lot of vaccine.

    If I should happen to get the virus again it would probably be one for the records. I had the virus in January and I get the second pfizer shot tomorrow. Even though I had the virus previously, the first shot still gave me symptoms that lasted a day or two. So I assume having had the virus makes no difference on that. So I guess I will have some after the second shot as well.

    1. I had the actual virus and still felt bad for a day or two after each Moderna shot. I would think that my body mounted an immune response after each shot because it was prepared for it.

      By the way, I got the second shot at a CVS drugstore and the experience was amazing. I waited in no lines at all and the whole thing took 10 minutes. Even their appointment website worked way better than the City of Long Beach’s.

  2. I think we should send all the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to places like Brazil, Africa, etc. Not because it is an inferior vaccine but because it is a superior vaccine in those situations. No special logistics required. Only one shot. In the US, we are close to being vaccinated. In Illinois, at the rate we are going, all adults can be vaccinated by the end of June. I think by May, the state will have to start a campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated. I believe the situation is similar throughout the country.

    The problem is places where Covid is running rampant. Rapid spread means more mutations which means more variants which will invariably come back to the US. We need to stay a bit ahead of the virus which means tamping it down world wide. We do not know how long the vaccines last (other than at least six months for Pfizer). We do not know how they will protect against variants. We have to give science some breathing space to continue the battle. Vaccinating the world is the only way to do that. We should cooperate with Russia and China in this effort.

    1. Agreed. What you say above would be the logical way to fly, in all haste.

      I am an 82 year old female in BC Canada. A neighbour and my myself had first shots (Pfizer) yesterday at the same time. To illustrate how differently side effects can be – she barely got in the house and was weak, disoriented and dizzy, etc. I inquired and she no special aches or pains. She is the same this morning. If she is not recovered tomorrow I shall drive her to a clinic. I have had no side effects whatsoever.

      To your point George, I think you are 110% correct about getting behind a global push to deliver vaccines before the variants mutate too much to be affected. The suitable vaccine to the suitable location would go a long way to speeding the process.

      Stay safe everyone.

  3. I’ve always had the sense that these vaccines are so devastatingly effective that it would be hard for enough of a viral load to survive in a fully vaccinated subject to make that person a risk for infection spread, even asymptomatically. I mean, they hunt and destroy the virus itself, not the symptoms. I’d be very glad to see that hunch confirmed by long-term follup-up studies on completely vaccinated people…

  4. This week’s This Week in Virology (TWiV) episode 737 posting has about thirty minutes of discussion starting at 1:05:40 that I found to be of general interest. First, at 1:05:40, they start a discussion of the WHO report published this week on origins of COVID-19 (and give a link to a pdf of the 120 page report in the show notes). This is a pretty good discussion both because the TWiV folks are SME’s (subject matter exprets) and because they personally know a number of the players and the labs involved. Second, immediately following the WHO report discussion, at around 1:28, they discuss the MMWR report on infection, that Jerry’s doctor referred to, which shows a remarkable reduction in susceptibility to infection (not just disease) among recipients of both mRNA shots. A good half hour listening investment. As always TWiV 737 can by found at
    Ignore the title of the episode and just advance to 1:05:40 for discussion of WHO report.

  5. The J&J will be far better in terms of speed for getting enough people fully vaccinated. When I think about all the big cities, medium sized towns, small towns and folks living out in the boonies, the task of getting enough ‘shots in arms’ (sorry!) just seems so daunting. Its not just the raw supply, it is also the very limited supply of technicians who deliver the shots and make patient records. Then there are the vast populations in other countries. The one-shot J&J looks very good in the logistical race against time in depleting this virus before it comes up with new tricks to thwart us.

    Meanwhile there are the nasal sprays (I think there are more than one) that may prove to be an effective over-the-counter stop-gap measure in blocking the virus.
    All this will unfold over the next several months. And a year from now we might see this thing in the rear view mirror.

  6. I recently asked my folks if they were planning on getting vaccinated (they are ‘hesitant’, Covid-lite deniers). My mom said she hates the flu shot so probably not, and my dad said he would wait for the J&J vaccine – which shocked me. I presumed that the aborted baby bit thing would have put him off as he is very, very religious. He said something about it being ‘tried and true, not that RNA stuff’. Has anyone else come across this? I’m really curious which right-wing news source is pushing this, I can’t imagine where else he would have gotten that idea.

    1. FOX is still coddling the Covid deniers and such. Both my parents, born again Xtian Trump lovers, got the virus (not mask wearing people) and luckily didn’t get a severe case. My mom said she wasn’t getting the vaccine “because they always make me sick”. I don’t know about dad, but I doubt he will either. They both only get their news from FOX, so I can thank that propaganda channel for spreading ignorance, fear and for some, death. This country would be so much better off if FOX never existed; it is a cancer in American society.

    2. They may wish to learn that mRNA vaccines are a new application, but they have been tested for more than a decade. The Covid vaccines have been thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness before they were released, and since then the large #s of people who have taken them amount to demonstrations of their safety. No, mRNA vaccines do not enter ones’ DNA (I’ve seen that brought up more than once).
      I have a couple very conservative friends, and they are similarly “dug in” about not getting any of the vaccines. After I get my 2nd RNA shot, along with my wife, I plan on mentioning to them the interesting side effect that I’ve lost weight! And my wife seems significantly more attractive. Also I think I’m growing the hair back on my head.

      1. Well more than 100M people have been vaccinated with the mRNA vaxs now, If there were a safety issue, we would know it. (Of course they’ll probably just say fake news.)

  7. I’m thrilled that I managed to get vaccinated yesterday (AstraZeneca), out of the blue!
    Here in Ontario the vaccine roll out is very slow and it was looking like I (57) wouldn’t be vaccinated until maybe June or July with my first shot. (Whereas my wife, a healthcare worker, was fully vaccinated in January).

    But I was driving and heard on talk radio many pharmacies were going to be giving the shot and lowering the age to 55 and above starting on the weekend! Whoa! I did some quick research and while it was only waiting lists for the bigger Pharmacy chains, I found a tiny pharmacy who said “come on in and get your shot now.” So I started firing off this info to all my age-relevant friends and most of us got vaccinated yesterday or have appointments in a day or two. What a relief.

    That said, to get the shot I was sat in a fairly small room, with two distance chairs. While waiting for the pharmacist to get my shot ready, another guy came in and sat down and was clearly sniffling a lot like he was sick. And you fill out a form before-hand saying you aren’t exhibiting any symptoms!
    Worrier that I am I was thinking: great, here I am finally getting the vaccine, but sitting in a room with someone with possible symptoms of covid. Hoping I didn’t come down with covid before the vaccine kicked in. (He was masked and I was double-masked with an N95, with a re-enforcing “fix the mask” rubber brace that helps keep a good seal, so…I figure if this stuff is generally keeping medical staff safe it should work ok for folks like us).

    After the shot yesterday I didn’t sleep much at night (I’ve heard it can have that affect), and woke up definitely feeling my system working, mild headache, mild flu feeling for whole body. I’m not worried about things like blood clots which, eve if linked to this vaccine, are so rare as to not concern me. I’m amazed how many do a risk calculation that it is “better to take my chances with covid” vs having a super rare side effect that happens in a handful of people among millions. In fact, I understand I have some of the vaccine-hesitant to thank for getting the shot, as apparently a bunch of people had cancelled their vaccine appointments, leaving some available for us.

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