Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster shots this week in an effort to provide flexibility for those seeking to maintain protection against the coronavirus.
The upcoming announcement by the Food and Drug Administration, which was first reported by The New York Times and later confirmed by NBC News, is likely to come along with authorization for boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots and follows the authorization of a third dose for the Pfizer vaccine for many Americans last month. The move was previewed Tuesday by a U.S. health official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.
The FDA was expected to say that, especially for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that have proved most effective against the virus, maintaining consistency in the vaccine course was still preferable. The agency was still finalizing guidance for the single-shot J&J vaccine.
The reported announcement comes a week after a study from the National Institute of Health found giving a booster dose of a vaccine different from the vaccine type that was used for the initial vaccination series was "safe and effective."
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The NIH study found that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine produced stronger antibody levels after they got booster shots made by Moderna or Pfizer, compared to boosters from Johnson & Johnson. The study published Wednesday has not been peer reviewed.
Allowing mixing and matching could alleviate supply issues, make the task of getting a booster simpler for Americans and allow people who may have had adverse reactions to the initial dose to try a different shot.
The move will come after the U.S. said it would recognize mixing and matching of vaccines administered overseas, as was common in Canada and some European countries in the early months of the vaccination campaign, for the purposes of entering the U.S.