FDA Formally Approves Mixed Vaccine Booster Shots, Can Get Different Booster From Original Shot

FDA Formally Approves Mixed Vaccine Booster Shots, Can Get Different Booster From Original Shot

Vaccine Boosters

FDA Formally Approves Mixed Vaccine Boosters, Can Get Different Booster From Original Shot. Can you mix and match two-dose COVID-19 vaccines? (AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially authorized the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccine booster shots, paving the way for Americans to receive mixed vaccine doses, regardless of which shot they initially took.

The FDA’s decision was announced Wednesday, Oct. 20, and expounded on in a call with reporters. “We wanted to provide a lot of flexibility,” said acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock. She added she “would expect many will continue to get the same series they have already received,” according to The Washington Post.

The Johnson & Johnson booster was authorized for anyone 18 and over; and the Moderna booster, which is half of the original dose, was authorized for adults 65 and older. Add to the Pfizer-BioNTech’s previous authorization, also for adults 65 and older, and the approval opens the door to eligibility for boosters to millions more Americans.

The Moderna booster is authorized to be taken six months after recipients’ second shot, but Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients only have to wait two months to receive their boosters.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) did a “mix and match” study and said all combinations of vaccine booster shots increased antibodies to fight covid-19. However, it used a full-dose Moderna vaccine and only followed 50 people for a short time, according to the Post.

While the NIH has cautioned that its study not be used to recommend one vaccine combination over another, it did say the results were promising in supporting the mix and match theory overall.

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“It’s really hard to say we have to look at the bigger picture,” said John Beigel, associate director for clinical research in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He cautioned there were still a variety of variables to consider, but noted the data is promising thus far.

“Our study is designed to say: If [booster doses] mix, do you get a good immune response? And I think regardless of the mix you get a good response,” Beigel said.

The FDA’s Sr. Peter Marks agreed with him. “Being able to interchange these vaccines is a good thing — it’s like what we do with flu vaccines,” Marks told reporters Wednesday evening, according to The Associated Press (AP). “Most people don’t know what brand of flu vaccine they received.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are convening an expert panel Thursday before weighing in with official recommendations for who should get boosters, when, and whether “mixing and matching” shots is a good idea.

Woodcock said the approval of the mixed vaccine booster shots is a step in the right direction.

 “Today the currently available data suggest waning immunity in some populations of fully vaccinated people,” said FDA’s acting commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock. “The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”

Other scientists are concerned the increased attention on boosters will take away from what they deem the more important push for people to get vaccinated in general.

“We are worried that boosters will distract from the primary vaccination push,” said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “That is really more important in terms of controlling the pandemic.”