CDC panel backs booster expansion for Pfizer, Moderna, J&J shots

Millions more Americans can get a COVID-19 booster and choose a different company’s vaccine for that next shot, federal health officials said Thursday.

"I am very interested in the booster," says South Jersey teacher Nancy O’Neill. Now, that the CDC signed off on the J&J and Moderna boosters and mixing and matching vaccines, O’Neill says she’s in.

"I’m ready and I feel like we need to protect each other," says O’Neill.

Other people say they’re not sure that a booster is necessary just yet.

"I’m just waiting for all the answers to come through," says Brian Jenkins, of Collingswood, New Jersey.

While health experts agree that all three shots remain highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death, many believe booster shots can’t hurt. They especially help people over the age of 65, the immunocompromised, people who work in high-risk settings, and anyone who received the J&J vaccine. 

Next question: which booster to choose?

"I am a big fan of the mix-and-match approach," says Jason Gallagher, a Clinical Professor at Temple University School of Pharmacy.

Gallagher says he initially received the J&J shot.  Then, last spring, he decided to boost himself with a dose of the Pfizer vaccine as the Delta variant took hold. Looking back, he’s glad he did.  

"It looks like going from a first dose of Johnson & Johnson to a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna leads to a better immunological response," explains Gallagher, who says, mixing and matching is a personal choice.

"While all of these vaccines are effective and safe, there are differences between them."

If you had a reaction to or a concern about the initial shot(s) you received, you might want to consider switching to a different brand for your booster.  

The decision can be overwhelming.  Gallagher recommends that you talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the best option for your situation.  Also, refer to CDC recommendations for details on when to get a booster shot.  



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