FDA To Allow Fully Vaccinated Americans To Mix Booster Shots


By Jessica Randall

Members of an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Friday to recommend boosters for everyone who received Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine, one day after the committee recommended boosters for some Moderna recipients. Later in the meeting, members addressed the question of whether people need to stick to their original vaccine for boosters, especially in light of preliminary data that suggests mixing COVID-19 vaccines, or "heterologous priming," is effective or even beneficial in some cases.

There wasn't a vote by the advisory committee, but the FDA is now set to allow Americans to mix vaccine brands when they become eligible for boosters, said sources familiar with the situation. The agency may suggest people stick with their original vaccine brand if possible, but will allow health care providers and patients the freedom to get a different brand of vaccine.

The official thumbs-up for combining coronavirus shots will reportedly happen this week, when the FDA is expected to officially authorize booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. On Thursday, advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are meeting and are expected to issue guidance on boosters and mixing vaccine brands. Before shots go into arms, both the FDA and CDC need to weigh in.

The only one-dose vaccine available in the US, Johnson & Johnson, has been a catalyst in the mixing COVID-19 vaccines discussion, as early research suggests people who received the one-dose vaccine have a higher antibody response to an mRNA booster compared to a boost with Johnson & Johnson (though antibody response is only part of the picture of immunity).

Allowing a mix-and-match approach may further reduce the appeal of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, which isn't as widely available as Moderna's or Pfizer's in the US to begin with.

Some adults who initially received Pfizer are now eligible for a booster shot of Pfizer already, including adults who are at risk of severe COVID-19 because of a health condition and folks whose jobs put them at high risk of transmission. (Immunocompromised people who received an mRNA vaccine have been eligible for a third dose of Moderna or Pfizer for a while.) Moderna's and Johnson & Johnson's booster doses have recently received recommendations for authorization by the FDA's advisory committee, but are waiting on official authorization by the FDA and recommendations for use and distribution by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mixing COVID-19 vaccines is being done in other countries, and it's also being done unofficially in medical offices as some people seek out COVID-19 boosters for themselves.

The mix-and-match allowance will be the newest layer to the booster rollout in the US, which some have criticized as a premature promise by the Biden administration to get all US adults a booster. Additionally, some officials with the World Health Organization have called on countries including the US to stop giving boosters to vaccinated people, when as few as 2.8% of people in lower-income countries have received a coronavirus shot.

As booster news continues to unfold, here's what to know right now about mixing COVID-19 vaccine brands.


Articles in this issue:

Leave a Comment

Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated. Please do not use a spam keyword or a domain as your name, or else it will be deleted. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation instead. Thanks for your comments!

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.