As booster shots become available for more Americans, a question physicians are hearing frequently is, “Can I mix and match one vaccine with another?”
The short answer is yes.
“In studies, people who used this mix-and-match approach to their booster shot had the same or even a better immune response than those whose booster was the same as their original vaccine,” said Shalika Katugaha, MD, system medical director of Infectious Diseases at Baptist Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed off at the end of October on booster recommendations for certain recipients of all three authorized COVID-19 vaccines, and also cleared the way for people to get a different booster than their initial dose or series.
Those who received both doses of either Pfizer or Moderna are eligible for a booster shot six months or more after the completion of their original vaccination if they are:
- 65 years or older
- Age 18+ and live in a long-term care setting
- Age 18+ and have underlying medical conditions
- Age 18+ and work or live in high-risk settings (this includes health care workers)
People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a booster two months or more after their original vaccination if they are 18 or older.
The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson boosters have the same dosage as the original vaccine, while the Moderna booster is half the original dose. Dr. Katugaha cautioned against confusing the booster with a third vaccine dose, which is used for immunocompromised patients.
The mix-and-match approach offers patients eligible for a booster more flexibility. Dr. Katugaha recommended basing your booster choice on your personal underlying health conditions and on the availability of the shots near you.
For example, if you got two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, you could get a Moderna booster. If you got two doses of the Moderna vaccine, you could get a Pfizer booster. If you got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you could get a Pfizer or Moderna booster. You also have the option of sticking to your original vaccine brand.
Dr. Katugaha recommended talking to your doctor about which booster is best for you. For example, people with blood or clotting disorders may want to avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, she said.
For patients without underlying health conditions, availability is key.
“Get whichever booster you can,” Dr. Katugaha said. “It’s better to get it than to put it off.”
At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit baptistjax.com/covid19vaccine. Click here to find a vaccination location near you.