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Report: FDA to allow Americans to mix and match COVID-19 booster shot, health official reacts

Posted at 9:51 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 17:57:10-04

DENVER — The Food and Drug Administration may ease guidelines and allow people to mix and match shots when they line up for their booster dose, the New York Times reported.

If the approach is approved, it would help increase COVID-19 vaccine accessibility for people who live further away and allow providers to have a say in the brand they provide their patients.

A recent study found that people who received a Johnson & Johnson shot initially and followed up with a Moderna or Pfizer booster increased their antibody levels at a higher rate than a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The small study sounds promising and provides some proof that mixing shots is safe, but Dr. Michelle Barron, a senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth, said more studies are needed.

“Immunologically, in a test tube, that looks like it makes a difference. Like, it’s a lot, right? But is it really better or is it about the same?" Barron said. “I think this is really the question that we don’t know.”

She said, as of now, it’s unclear how many antibodies people need to be protected against COVID-19.

The government is not recommending one shot over another, and experts prefer people to stick with the same brand for each dose, which has strong data.

“I would recommend getting the same manufacturer because we know what that looks like. We know what the data looks like in terms of the actual protection, not just what’s in a test tube,” Barron said.

The FDA is expected to authorize the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shot in the coming days, according to the New York Times. A Pfizer booster was approved in late September for select groups including those 65 and older and people who are immunocompromised.

The mix and match shot approach is not yet approved, but a formal announcement by the FDA may be coming this week.

Over the summer, the Canadian government gave the OK to mix and match shots.

The latest numbers show that more than 3.5 million Coloradans are fully vaccinated and nearly 190 million people are fully vaccinated across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Barron is pleading with the unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine as the flu season gets underway.

“For those that are not vaccinated, I highly recommend that you get your vaccine," Barron said. "This virus isn’t going away any time soon, and, unfortunately, in Colorado, it’s starting to surge again."