After considering the safety data provided by their manufacturers, the US Food and Drug Administration officially gave the green light for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to begin delivering their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. With the FDA’s blessing secured, the companies just need the go-ahead from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin administering the shots. If the CDC gives permission, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters could be available in pharmacies as soon as next week.
“As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death,” FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
“The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”
In addition to approving the new boosters, the FDA also confirmed that it is safe to mix and match different initial vaccines and boosters. For example, someone who got the Pfizer vaccine could safely receive a Moderna booster. This will hopefully make it easier to receive a booster, even if the vaccine you got is no longer available in your area.
U.S. regulators OK booster shots for the Moderna and J&J coronavirus vaccines as well as mixing and matching booster doses among the three authorized vaccines. https://t.co/DGPGXPAe99
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 20, 2021
“Being able to interchange these vaccines is a good thing. It’s like what we do with flu vaccines. Most people don’t know what brand flu vaccine they received,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s vaccine arm, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told reporters.
Currently, the boosters are only recommended for the elderly or immunocompromised, but as the FDA and CDC receive more data, they will consider lowering the age range and simplifying the process.