FDA could approve mix-and-match approach for COVID booster shots

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — The FDA could soon approve a mix-and-match approach for COVID-19 booster shots, meaning Americans could get a different vaccine for their booster than their initial vaccine.  

It comes after the FDA approved Pfizer booster shots last month for people 65 and older and those with compromised immune systems. 

Approval of the mix-and-match approach is expected this week after a recent National Institute of Health study showed mixing and matching vaccines works. 

“I think that is the most important outcome, is that it’s actually safe to do so and it also seems to be effective,” said Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine practitioner for Sharp Rees-Stealy Downtown.

Olulade said the recent study shows those who received the Johnson & Johnson shot may benefit from a booster of Pfizer or Moderna, especially Moderna, which can increase the number of antibodies, meaning more protection against COVID-19. 

But vice versa is still a gray area. Olulade said since the study is not yet peer reviewed, it’s not yet clear if those with Pfizer and Moderna can get the J&J booster. Though she wants San Diegans to know the initial J&J vaccine is still effective. 

“It is still protective against those really severe outcomes, so people that got the Johnson & Johnson don’t need to panic. Not a reason to panic, but I think it is a good thing that we have some more information, some more data,” she said. 

Olulade said the new mix-and-match approach could mean more flexibility for providers and patients. 

“I think it will be a tremendous convenience, because that means you can boost with whatever you have available. There are times when patients have skipped out on completing their series because they couldn’t find their same manufacturer,” she said. 

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