Avoid mixing & matching vaccine boosters from different drug makers, health leaders advise

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Efforts are officially underway to get the Covid booster shot out to adults older than 65 and those most at risk for severe infection.

Now that the Pfizer booster has been approved, could those who initially received the shot from Moderna or Johnson & Johnson get it?

The recommendation from health leaders is to avoid mixing and matching the vaccine from different drug makers.

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“Right now, the CDC really just recommends booster doses for those who have completed their initial series with the Pfizer vaccine,” Dr. Shirin Mazumder with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said.

She said that might change in the future, as health leaders study how interchangeable the vaccines are.

“Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine uses the same technology, so they are very similar,” Dr. Mazumder said. “But we don’t have enough data on safety and efficacy.”

The CDC has approved Pfizer’s booster for adults 65 and older, as well as those at high risk for exposure and severe disease.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Healthcare expects Moderna won’t be far behind.

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“That should likely be soon. They are already making applications for that. So it should be just a matter of weeks before we can see probable approval of the Moderna,” he said.

Although there is some evidence effectiveness of the vaccine dwindles over time, Dr. Threlkeld said if you’ve gotten the initial vaccine, you’re still protected from the most severe outcomes.

“The good news is there is really no evidence that the effectiveness to any of these vaccines is weaning significantly when it comes to severe disease and death,” he said.

If you fit the requirements for a booster shot but got either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, both doctors say to be patient and recognize the initial vaccines are still very effective.