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Does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine protect against COVID's Delta variant? Health experts weigh in

Both Pfizer and Moderna say for fully vaccinated people, their vaccines are highly effective against the variant.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Experts say the more people vaccinated the better, especially with the spread of the Delta variant.

The highly contagious COVID-19 variant now accounts for more than 25% of all new cases nationwide and is now in all 50 states. In Los Angeles, the variant has county officials recommending wearing masks in public indoor space, regardless of vaccination status.

Both Pfizer and Moderna say for fully vaccinated people, that means people two or more weeks out from their second dose, their vaccines are highly effective against the variant.

But at the end of June, we haven't heard from the makers of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yet.

"We have at least 67 cases that have been confirmed to have this variant," Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the Sacramento County Public Health Officer said.

As the Delta variant works its way into Sacramento, many people who got the single-dose J&J vaccine are wondering if they're still protected against the variant, which Kasirye says is more contagious. 

"We have fewer people who were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, so it's going to take awhile to be able to get those numbers," Kasirye said. "We know that it is effective, but we just don't know how effective it is against the variant."

Dr. Dean Blumberg has been a professor and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital for 25 years. 

"There's no data as far as I'm aware of, with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, [concerning the Delta variant]," Blumberg said.

According to a study by Public Health England earlier this month, the AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against the Delta variant.  

And while there isn't enough research out on Johnson & Johnson vaccines just yet, Blumberg says that vaccine is actually very similar to the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

"I expect that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that the protection achieved by that will be very similar to the experience with the AstraZeneca. And just a reminder, there is more experience with the AstraZeneca vaccine in India where the Delta variant was first noticed," he said.

But at the end of the day, he stands by his word that getting any vaccine is still better than getting no vaccine. 

"So, even if we do get breakthrough infections with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and it's a mild case that doesn't result in hospitalization, that's still better than being in a situation where you haven't been vaccinated," he said.

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