FDA OKs Mixing COVID Vaccines for Booster Shots, But Should You Do It?

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A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel recommended Thursday that anyone eligible for a COVI-19 vaccine booster shot can get a brand different from the one they received initially.

CDC advisors also endorsed “mixing and matching” brands for the extra dose -- a key step in the federal push to broaden booster access for the U.S. public.

Here's what you should know:

The FDA opened the way for anyone eligible for a booster to get any of the country's three authorized brands for their extra dose. The FDA stressed the practicality of being able to get whatever booster a particular pharmacy or clinic is offering, particularly in nursing homes and other institutional settings where residents have received different shots over time.

The interchangeability of the shots is expected to speed the booster campaign.

FDA's acting commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said the agency wanted to make its booster guidance as flexible as possible, given that many people don't remember which brand they first received. In other cases, some people may want to try a different vaccine if they previously experienced common side effects like muscle ache or chills.

Still, regulators said it's likely many people will stick with the same vaccine brand.

The decision was based on preliminary results from a government study of different booster combinations that showed an extra dose of any type revs up levels of virus-fighting antibodies. That study also showed recipients of the single-dose J&J vaccination had a far bigger response if they got a full-strength Moderna booster or a Pfizer booster rather than a second J&J shot. The study didn't test the half-dose Moderna booster.

CDC advisers on Thursday endorsed extra doses of all three of the nation’s vaccines — and said people could choose a different company’s brand for that next shot.

Certain people who received Pfizer vaccinations months ago already are eligible for a booster and now advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say certain Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients should qualify, too. And in a bigger change, the panel opened the option of “mixing and matching” that would allow a different vaccine for the extra dose than the kind people first received.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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