The FDA authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID vaccine boosters

The FDA authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID vaccine boosters

The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson following unanimous votes by a committee of independent advisers backing the boosters last week.

 In a related decision, the FDA also authorized boosters that differ from the vaccine originally used to immunize a person against COVID-19. So, for instance, a person who got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine could receive one from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech as a booster.

 The regulatory moves open the gate for boosters to be used more widely. In September, the FDA authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

 "The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated," said the FDA's acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, in a statement. "The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease."

 On Thursday, a committee of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet to discuss COVID-19 vaccine booster shots and make recommendations on their use. The CDC director makes the final call on vaccine guidelines. After the CDC issues its guidance, the rollout can begin officially.

 A study of the mix-and-match approach, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found no safety concerns in using a different vaccine as a booster. The boosts with a mixed vaccine combination were at least as good in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines, the study found, and in some cases the mixed approach appeared much better.

 By blessing the use of a mixed vaccine combination, the FDA makes it easier to give booster shots in nursing homes where residents haven't all received the same original vaccines.

 October 20, 2021


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