FDA considering mixing vaccine brands for booster shots

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 9:56 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews COVID-19 vaccine boosters for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients, it’s also taking a look at new data that shows you can mix vaccine brands when receiving a booster shot.

More than 10 months after COVID-19 vaccines were first given emergency use authorization by the FDA, the federal agency is still reviewing new data about the shots.

“I’d love to tell you a little time has made things a lot simpler, but that’s simply not true,” said Baptist infectious disease specialist, Dr. Steve Threlkeld. “There are essentially nine options to do boosting right now.”

Threlkeld is referring to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study where recipients were given different combinations of an original vaccine series and a booster shot. The study found boosted immunity in recipients who received a different booster than their original two shots, and may point to an even better immunity boost for Johnson & Johnson recipients if they get a Moderna or Pfizer booster.

“All of this is based on some previous data from months ago show that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is like the J&J vaccine, was fairly effectively boosted by Pfizer, an RNA vaccine,” Threlkeld said. “So, that looked pretty good.”

The FDA is even looking at the ongoing NIH study to consider recommendations for mixing booster shots. It considered the data when reviewing data about the Johnson & Johnson booster. An FDA board voted unanimously to recommend a Johnson & Johnson booster Friday and did the same thing for Moderna boosters Thursday.

For now, the recommendation on the only booster currently with emergency use authorization, Pfizer, is to give it to those who have already received a Pfizer two-dose series at least six months ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends boosters only for those 65 and older, those with immunocompromising disorders, and those who may be at risk of exposure through their job.

In Shelby County, there is one exception.

“If you show up [to a public vaccination site] and you’re not sure what [vaccine] you got, you can get the third dose. But that’s only in the immunocompromised population,” said Shelby County Health Department director, Dr. Michelle Taylor.

Emergency use authorization from the FDA for the remaining boosters could come as early as next week.

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