FDA to allow Americans to ‘mix and match’ COVID vaccine booster shots


The FDA plans to allow vaccinated Americans to receive a different booster shot from the vaccine they originally received, a measure that health officials have petitioned for weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The agency will not recommend one booster shot over another, and instead allow individuals and their vaccine providers to choose a different brand at their own discretion, WSJ said.

The paper said the panel is expected to authorize booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson by Wednesday night this week, hoping to expand the booster shot opportunities to eligible Americans. The agency could approve the “mix and match” approach by then, according to WSJ.

The plan to allow the mixing of vaccines was first reported by The New York Times.

The planned authorization comes after researchers from the National Institute of Health [NIH] met on Friday and presented the findings of a federally funded “mix and match” study to an FDA panel of medical experts, analyzing antibody levels in patients when their booster shot was different from their vaccine.

The FDA panel is expected to approve Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots this week.
The FDA panel is expected to approve Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots this week.
AP Photo/John Partipilo

The study found that those who received the Johnson & Johnson say a greater increase in antibodies from a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine than from a booster of Johnson & Johnson. Researchers also found that a booster of the Pfizer vaccine also raised the antibody levels of Johnson & Johnson recipients more than booster of J&J, but not as high as Moderna, according to The Times.

State Health officials have asked the FDA for this approval to allow patients to receive a booster that is either more readily available or determined to be safer for the patient by their own doctor.

The FDA panel unanimously endorsed the emergency authorization of the J&J booster on Friday, amid fears that the vaccine may be less effective than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Officials recommend that all those who received the shot get a booster two months after. 

The FDA has not recommended one specific booster shot over the others.
The FDA has not recommended one specific booster shot over the others.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A study published Thursday analyzed 620,000 military veterans who received the J&J vaccine this year and found that effective protection against the virus fell precipitously from 88 percent in March to just 3 percent in August. 

On Thursday, the FDA panel also unanimously endorsed approval of a Moderna half-dose booster shot for at-risk Americans that received their second vaccination shot at least six months ago. “At-risk” would apply to adults 65 years and older as well as adults ages 18 and up who may have other health conditions, jobs, or living situations that put them that at greater risk of infection. The FDA authorized a Pfizer booster last month for the same at-risk groups.

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