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Drew: What is the mix & match COVID-19 booster strategy?

By Samuetta Hill Drew

Last month after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), endorsed a COVID-19 booster shot for Pfizer BioNTech two series vaccine recipients, millions of Americans received a booster vaccine shot. The recent approval by the FDA and CDC for Moderna and J & J Jassen fully vaccinated recipients to receive a third vaccine shot, has paved the way for millions more Americans to protect themselves by receiving an additional booster shot.

This is welcoming news for the more than 39 million Moderna recipients and the nearly 13 million J & J Jassen recipients who are eligible for a booster dose.

The coronavirus vaccines “are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulation Delta variant,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC said in a recent statement.

Studies showed that the vaccines remained very effective against severe disease and death, although their effectiveness might have waned against milder infections.

The purpose of the vaccines is to prevent illness severe enough to require medical attention, not to prevent infection, said Dr. Wilbur Chen, an infectious disease physician of the University of Maryland and a member of the CDC panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. He further stated, “It might be too much to ask for a vaccine, either a primary series or the booster, to prevent all forms of infections.”

Note to self: This is why many in the medical and scientific communities continue to encourage Americans to follow COVID-19 precautions when in large groups or in populations outside your usual environmental bubble.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the Moderna booster for elderly people and at-risk adults six months after they complete their primary series of shots, bringing it in line with the distribution plan for the Pfizer BioNTech booster. It also endorsed J & J boosters for everyone 18 and older who received the initial shot at least two months ago.

The FDA gave the “green light” for people eligible for the booster shots to get a dose of a different brand. Last week, the members of the CDC panel endorsed the same concept calling it the “mix and match strategy.” It says people fully vaccinated with one company’s vaccine should be allowed to receive a different vaccine for their booster shot.

The panel did not specify which vaccine should be used as a booster, leaving it up to doctors to decide whether to mix and match the companies’ doses to provide the best protection for their patients in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant.

Therefore, if you fall in the eligible categories for the booster shots, consult with your physician to see what the best booster approach for you is. This will help you Keep an Eye on your health and safety.