FDA Could Allow Mixing and Matching of COVID-19 Vaccines

NBC News has confirmed the approval could come as soon as Wednesday

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The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce this week that Americans can get a COVID booster shot that was manufactured by a different company than the one produced their original coronavirus vaccination.

In other words, if someone received a Johnson & Johnson single dose, vaccine, they can bet a booster shot made by Moderna.

NBC News has confirmed the approval could come as soon as Wednesday. Sources told NBC News that the process needs to move forward with urgency to give doctors flexibility and, in part, because people have already started to mix-and-match on their own.

Kate White is one of nearly 14 million Americans who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“I had talked to my doctor, and they said J&J is a great vaccine, which it is, and there was no need for me to seek double protection, but we decided to go ahead and do it anyway,” White told NBC 7.

White said she and her husband received a shot of Moderna in August, even though mixing-and-matching of vaccines was not approved for emergency use in the United States. She explained that she and her husband had read about studies in Europe that mixed the Pfizer vaccine with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not approved of for use in the United States.

“I am no doctor, nor am I a scientist, but I think just reading up on what was happening in Europe and knowing the delta variant was crazy at that point, we felt at the end of the day, vaccines are doing the same thing, giving you antibodies," White said. "So, it's just a different mechanism, and we just wanted to be double-protected.”

Last week at a meeting of the FDA advisory panel, the National Institutes of Health presented the early results from a study showing that mixing-and-matching vaccines was safe and effective, and that those who got the J&J shot produced stronger antibody levels when they received Moderna or Pfizer boosters, compared to booster of the same J&J shot. 

Nathan Thernes, who received the J&J vaccine in March, has been waiting for the J&J booster to be approved. He said that if the FDA recommends mixing-and-matching, he would “absolutely” be willing to get whatever becomes available first, though he said that his preference at this point is “to stick with the one that I’ve presently had, but if they came out and said, you know, a second booster of Pfizer or Moderna would work, then I would be perfectly fine with that.”

White said she and her husband's decision to use Moderna to mix with their J&J was “ based on some studies from Mayo Clinic that Moderna seems to fare better than Pfizer. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters.”

The FDA advisory panel is expected to give direction on how the vaccines can be mixed and matched, but it is expected to be a very broad recommendation, providing flexibility in choosing a booster.

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