FDA to Allow Americans Mixing COVID-19 Vaccine as Boosters [Update]

Courtesy of Seth Anderson (Flickr CC0)

The FDA plans to allow Americans to receive a different COVID-19 vaccine booster from the initial dose received. This move could lessen the appeal of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and offer flexibility to vaccinators and doctors.

While using the same vaccine shot as a booster is preferable, vaccine providers can use their discretion to offer a different brand. 

On Friday, researchers presented the mix and match strategy to expand the number of Americans eligible for the booster shots. Their study revealed that recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot who have a Moderna booster had their antibody levels rise 76-fold in 15 days, compared to fourfold after another dose of Johnson & Johnson.

The FDA expects to authorize boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines by Wednesday. Last month, the agency allowed booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for at least six months after the second dose.        

Courtesy of Anthony Quintano (Flickr CC0)

CDC advisory committee will discuss the booster issue on Thursday with its recommendations. Tens of millions of Americans could be eligible for the booster shot by the end of the week. So far, more than 15 million Americans have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, 104.5 million with Pfizer-BioNTech, and 69.5 million with Moderna. 

The federal government will cover the cost of the booster if it is authorized by the FDA.

Both Pfizer and Moderna require two initial doses of about a month interval. Vaccine regulators must also follow a similar approach with Pfizer and authorize a booster of the Moderna vaccine six months after the second shot. Johnson & Johnson booster shots will be two months after the first dose. 

This week, the FDA expects to authorize boosters for all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s booster recipients are those who are 65 or at high risk.

The FDA authorized booster shots for 15 million Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot recipients and tens of millions of Moderna two-dose vaccines. It also updated its authorization for Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer-BioNTech to allow medical providers to carry out the mix and match strategy. The regulators are not recommending one vaccine over another.

UPDATE: The CDC advisory panel agrees with the FDA and endorses the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters. Additionally, the team condones mixing them with other vaccines.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


The New York Times: F.D.A. to Allow ‘Mix and Match’ Approach for Covid Booster Shots; by Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland
CNN: FDA planning to allow mix-and-match Covid-19 vaccine boosters; by Kaitlan Collins

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Seth Anderson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Anthony Quintano’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License