As expected, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted authorizations for Johnson & Johnson and Moderna’s COVID-19 booster shots. In addition, the FDA has also authorized the mix-and-match approach to booster shots, meaning someone who, for example, received the Moderna vaccination initially doesn’t necessarily need to get the Moderna booster shot.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are only authorized for certain people who meet eligibility requirements, including ones based on both age and risk factors. The big exception involves people who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine; in that case, the second booster shot can be given after two months for those ages 18 and older.
The FDA has also authorized the mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccine boosters, meaning that, assuming someone meets the duration and other requirements, they can get a booster shot from one of the authorized vaccines even if it is different than the vaccination they received initially. The agency notes that its latest authorization revisions are based on the data currently available to scientists.
Booster shots remain a controversial subject in terms of both equitable access to life-saving inoculation and data suggesting they may not be necessary for everyone. The FDA’s Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, points out that the current data on the virus shows that some people (such as those who are immunocompromised) may experience waning immunity, which is where the booster shots come in.
In a statement about the new authorizations, FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Peter Marks, MD, Ph.D., said:
The amendments to the emergency use authorizations to include a single booster dose in eligible populations are based on the available data and information and follows the input from the members of our advisory committee who were supportive of the use of a booster dose of these vaccines in eligible populations. We are also taking action today to include the use of mix and match boosters to address this public health need.