KC-area doctors say mixing, matching booster shots might broaden COVID protection

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mixing and matching COVID-19 booster shots on Wednesday afternoon.

Regulators said fully vaccinated individuals can receive booster shots that are different from their initial two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The FDA also approved both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters Wednesday, marking a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign. Pfizer’s booster has already been approved and is being distributed.

But before more people roll up their sleeves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel later this week before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when.

The FDA is still considering allowing any booster shot for everyone who already has received an authorized vaccine.

But for right now, the FDA has only authorized a Moderna booster shot for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions — six months after their last shot.

For J&J’s single-shot vaccine, the FDA said all U.S. recipients should get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination. 

Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital support the move, saying all of the approved vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness or death and mixing them may actually improve protection against the virus.

“Imagine that you want all levels of immunity,” said Dr Steven Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System. “Each vaccine does a little different job to help induce your immune system just a little differently. So if you mix them, you might get a broader defense against any possible ways that COVID-19 is trying to hurt you.”

A National Institutes of Health study found mixing boosters could provide more protection than sticking with the same vaccine, especially for those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

Stites said a fully vaccinated person should talk with their health care provider to determine which booster may be best.

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