With COVID-19 booster doses now available from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — and even more Americans becoming eligible soon — you may be wondering which brand you should get when it’s time to book an appointment. Should you stick with the shot you had originally, or choose to get a different brand for the booster?
In an update to its COVID vaccination guidelines last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared it safe to mix and match vaccines and boosters. “Any of the COVID-19 vaccines can be used for booster vaccination, regardless of the vaccine product used for primary vaccination,” the agency said. “When a heterologous or ‘mix and match’ booster dose is administered, the eligible population and dosing intervals are those of the vaccine used for primary vaccination.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved mixing the shots.
In a recent study, no severe adverse reactions were reported when mixing and matching COVID boosters. However, as The Washington Post pointed out, the research is still early and data is limited. As for efficacy, no combination of brands has been proven to be the most potent yet, though research suggests that those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may benefit most from getting a Moderna or Pfizer booster. Ultimately, experts recommend discussing the boosters with your doctor, who can help you make a decision based on your medical history. Beyond that, your choice in a booster shot may come down to what’s most convenient.
“Part of the beauty of the mix and match is it enables people no matter where they are — rural or in the city — to have a choice,” Kirsten E. Lyke, MD, one of the researchers who presented early findings to the FDA vaccine panel, told The New York Times. “They’re all safe, they’re all going to give you a boost, and they’re all going to protect you against severe disease and death.”
People who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines may be eligible for a booster shot six months after receiving their last dose. Currently the recommendation is for people over the age of 65, as well as those between the ages of 18 and 64 who have underlying conditions or work in high-risk jobs. People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible two months after their initial vaccine, as long as they’re 18 or older. However, the science is evolving, and the vaccine recommendations most certainly will as well. You can stay up to date on the CDC website.