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FDA authorizes mix-and-match COVID boosters, as well as Moderna and J&J boosters

Here’s what to know.
2020-12-31 rsk gateways vaccine 2
Shown here are vials of the Moderna-produced coronavirus vaccine, administered during a city-run vaccination clinic for group home residents Dec. 31, 2020, at the Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center in Youngstown. (Photo by Robert K. Yosay | Mahoning Matters)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially authorized booster doses for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines for certain people. 

The FDA also authorized “mixing and matching” for booster doses, meaning eligible people can receive a coronavirus vaccine from a different developer than the one they got for their initial dose or doses for their booster shot, according to a news release posted Oct. 20. 

Those who are eligible for a Moderna booster shot include people ages 65 and older and those between 18-64 years old who are either at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or workplace exposure.

The Moderna booster would be half the dose of the first two shots — 50 micrograms instead of 100 micrograms, and it would be given at least six months after receipt of their first two doses. 

Anyone age 18 and older can get the J&J booster shot at least two months after receiving their first dose.

Pfizer booster shots have been authorized for emergency use since September for people ages 65 and older and those between 18-64 years old who are either at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or workplace exposure. 

You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two weeks after your single dose of the J&J shot. You do not need a booster dose to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Before people can receive Moderna or J&J booster shots, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel will discuss who should get booster shots and when on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. The panel typically agrees with recommendations set forth by the FDA. 

“Today’s actions demonstrate our commitment to public health in proactively fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, said in a news release.

“The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”

Mixing and matching booster shots applies to any of the three authorized COVID-19 vaccines. 

For example, adults who initially got the J&J vaccine can receive a booster shot of either the Pfizer, Moderna or J&J vaccine at least two months after their first dose. A person who is over 65 years old, for instance, and who initially received the Moderna vaccine can get a booster of either the Pfizer, J&J or Moderna shots at least six months after they got their second dose. 

More than 189.7 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Oct. 20, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker. 

More than 9.5 million people have received a Pfizer booster, more than 1.6 million have received a Moderna booster and more than 11,000 have received a J&J booster as of Oct. 20.

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