Johnson & Johnson & regret

The nearly 14 million Americans jabbed with the Johnson & Johnson dose — I count myself among those few and now not-so-proud — were left out of the White House plans, beyond a vague assurance that while we’d probably need another shot, we’d be given more guidance on the matter (of, you know, life and death) when more data had come in. The good news was that by this point, us J&Jers scarcely expected any kind of clarity on our plight anyway; we’d fully come to terms with a certain purgatorial status.

Thus far, the FDA appears to believe that boosters for anyone under 65 aren’t really necessary, so we won’t have to endure the spectacle of all our friends and country people gallivanting off to Walgreens while we sit at home watching our antibodies wane. But after months of confusion, there remains more or less radio silence on the J&J question from those famously effective communicators at the CDC and FDA.

Never mind that a growing body of evidence shows that we could use another dose more than the Pfizer Pfanatics or Moderna Mafia — that breakthrough infections are at least somewhat more common among one-dose recipients than our smugly double-dosed compatriots, even if hospitalizations remain exceedingly rare. The small size of our cohort, plus the timeline of U.S. vaccine approvals (J&J was last on that score, natch), meant that data was scarce for large swathes of this spring and summer. And despite being in real need of some direction, it has often felt as if we’ve been cast out of the pandemic narrative altogether — like we’re the Generation X of vaccine recipients. Even insentient systems treat us shabbily: A J&J-dosed co-worker reported that New York’s Excelsior app didn’t recognize his vaccination site as legitimate until he called a confused-but-ultimately-helpful human to complain.

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