CDC director approves Moderna, J&J boosters, mix-and-match doses

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, endorsed booster doses for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recipients Oct. 21, making more than 50 million additional Americans eligible for boosters. 

Dr. Walensky's approval comes after the CDC's Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices voted unanimously Oct. 21 to recommend Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters. The FDA on Oct. 20 amended the emergency use authorizations for the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, allowing for the administration of an additional dose.

Booster shots are now available for all three COVID-19 vaccines, and roughly 70 million Americans in total are eligible for a booster.

"The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe — as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given," Dr. Walensky said in a statement. "And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating delta variant."

For people who got a Pfizer or Moderna shot, the groups eligible for a booster at six months or more after their initial vaccination are: people 65 and older, people 18 and older who live in long-term care settings, people 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions and people 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings. 

For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, booster shots are recommended for everyone 18 and older who were vaccinated two or more months ago. 

The CDC's approval also allows mixing vaccine doses from different manufacturers, so people can choose which booster shot they want to receive. The CDC is expected to release additional guidance next week with more details on who may benefit from one booster over another, according to The Washington Post

"However, today’s action should not distract from the critical work of ensuring that unvaccinated people take the first step and get an initial COVID-19 vaccine," Dr. Walensky said. "More than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated, leaving themselves — and their children, families, loved ones, and communities — vulnerable."


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