FDA to approve 'mix and match' approach to vaccine booster shots: report

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The Food and Drug Administration is planning to approve allowing Americans to receive a different COVID-19 vaccine for booster shots than the vaccine originally taken, according to the New York Times.

State health officials have come under increased pressure to authorize a “mix and match” approach after President Biden announced a nationwide booster campaign in August, raising fears that supplies of certain vaccines could run low in some areas.

“The No. 1 thing I heard from state health secretaries was the need for permissive language around a mix-and-match approach,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, file photo, a patient receives an influenza vaccine in Mesquite, Texas. Amid all the focus on COVID-19 vaccinations, U.S. health experts have another plea: Don’t skip your flu shot.  With U.S. schools and businesses reopened, international travel resuming and far less masking this fall, flu is likely to make a comeback. 

“From a public health perspective, there’s a clear need in some situations for individuals to receive a different vaccine,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a high-ranking official at the Centers for Disease control and prevention.

The FDA in September approved a Pfizer booster shot for those over 65 years old and other high-risk individuals, while the same type of guidance was approved last week for the Moderna vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which unlike Moderna and Pfizer only required one initial dose, has also been approved for a vaccine booster shot.

The news comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday signaled his belief that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should have been given in two doses, similar to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, responds to questions by Senator Rand Paul during the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 20, 2021. 
(Photo by J. Scott Applewhite / POOL / AFP) (Photo by J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“What the advisers to the FDA felt is that, given the data that they saw, very likely this should have been a two-dose vaccine to begin with,” Fauci said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Lehigh Valley operations facility for Mack Trucks in Macungie, Pa., Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Fauci also supported the idea of mixing and matching vaccines, saying those who had initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would likely have the flexibility to receive a Moderna of Pfizer booster shot.

Dr. Marcus Plescia, the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, agreed that health officials should have the flexibility to mix and match boosters.

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