By Michelle Goldberg

Early last month, I got my third Covid vaccine shot. I now realize this was overkill and I’m fairly embarrassed about it, but at the time I felt like I was operating in an information vacuum.

Let me explain.

As I’ve written before, I participated in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial. Even though I initially got the placebo, the study offered me the opportunity to get the real thing weeks before I’d have otherwise been eligible, and I gratefully accepted. At the time, public health authorities were telling everyone to take the first shot you could get. I’m still glad I followed this advice; after gutting out the worst year of my life, I was terrified of getting Covid right on the brink of vaccine salvation.

But then things started to go wrong for J.&J. At the end of March, news broke of problems at the Baltimore plant manufacturing the vaccine, and up to 15 million contaminated doses had to be scrapped. (Eventually around 60 million doses were thrown away.) In mid-April federal authorities called for a pause on the use of J.&J. shots because, in very rare cases, they were linked to a blood-clotting disorder.

By then, I’d had my vaccine for a month. But I was anxious about what the problems with J.&J. meant for boosters. When I got my inoculation, I knew the company was testing a two-dose regimen, and I thought it was likely that I’d end up getting a second Johnson & Johnson shot. Suddenly that seemed unclear.

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