FDA approves Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, as well as mixing COVID vaccines
U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.
The Food and Drug Administration’s decisions mark a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month. But before more people roll up their sleeves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel later this week before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when.
The latest moves would expand by tens of millions the number of Americans eligible for boosters and formally allow “mixing and matching” of shots — making it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination.
Specifically, the FDA authorized a third Moderna shot for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions — six months after their last shot. One big change: Moderna’s booster will be half the dose that’s used for the first two shots, based on company data showing that was plenty to rev up immunity again.
For J&J’s single-shot vaccine, the FDA said all U.S. recipients should get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination.
The FDA rulings differ because the vaccines are made differently, with different dosing schedules — and the J&J vaccine has consistently shown a lower level of effectiveness than either of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
Mike Stobbe contributed to this story from New York.
More health care and Big Pharma coverage from Fortune:
- What you need to know about the Delta Plus COVID variant and the danger it poses
- Should kids under 12 get the COVID vaccine? What parents should know
- Intrivo launches new at-home rapid test for COVID amid U.S. supply shortage
- COVID-19 vaccine makers could inoculate the world by the end of 2022, says J&J CEO Alex Gorsky
- Got the J&J vaccine? Here’s what you need to know about boosters
Subscribe to Fortune Daily to get essential business stories straight to your inbox each morning.