Mixing and Matching Vaccines? – Here’s Everything You Need to Know before Getting the Booster!

Mixing and Matching Vaccines? – Here’s Everything You Need to Know before Getting the Booster!
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If you are planning on getting your COVID-19 booster shot, it is possible that you might have some questions or are just trying to be well informed before going through with it.

More precisely, you may wonder if you are even eligible or when it’s the right time to do it!

Furthermore, do you have to get the booster from the same manufacturing company as the other dose/doses?

Well, the answers to these questions and more can be found here so read on if you want to find out everything you need to know before getting your booster shot!

First of all, you may remember that back in October, only some select people who had received their two doses of Pfizer were eligible for a booster but a lot has already changed since then!

Now, everyone over the age of 16 can get it and that is not even all – you can even pick any pharmaceutical company regardless of what kind of vaccine you’ve received before.

That’s right! Whether you got inoculated with Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer, the booster shot can come from any of these manufacturers!

However, you need to keep in mind that depending on which first dose or doses you got before, there are some differences.

More precisely, you need to wait for at least two months to get a different booster after getting inoculated with Johnson & Johnson and 6 months after Moderna and Pfizer.

Aside from these timeline rules, you are free to mix and match the vaccines however you wish!

The vaccination guidelines have been updated regularly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since they first recommended the booster for certain people back on September 24.

The most recent recommendation from the agency was for people to pick Pfizer or Moderna over Johnson & Johnson, based on “the latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness, safety and rare adverse events, and consideration of the U.S. vaccine supply.”

With that being said, on December 16, they updated this first statement by stressing that at the end of the day, getting any of the vaccines is still preferable over not getting vaccinated at all.

While talking about the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) and the viral vector (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines, Dr. Kruti Yagnik explained that “They both work really similarly, in that they teach your immune system how to fight against COVID-19, but they do it in a bit of a different manner.”

Yagnik, who is an infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital in Vero Beach, Florida, went on to say that if you are eligible to get the booster, the best choice for your health and the health of those around you is receiving whichever vaccine is the most readily available as time is of the essence.

She also mentioned that the immunity provided by the vaccine wanes over time, reason for which “the booster is especially important when it comes to preventing COVID infection and severe disease.”

Based on some early studies, those fully vaccinated will most likely need another booster shot against the latest variant, Omicron, as well!

This is for a better chance at preventing the spread of this highly contagious strain that’s taken over in record time, as much as possible.

According to the CDC, the Omicron variant now accounts for over 70 percent of all new cases in the United States in addition to having spread on all continents after first being discovered in South Africa right before Thanksgiving.

So who is eligible for the booster and when?

As mentioned before, if you are over the age of 16 and fully vaccinated, you can get a booster but you have to remember there are some time restrictions dictated by the kind vaccine your primary dose or doses came from.

More precisely, you should not try and get the booster until you’ve waited at least:

  • 2 months after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,
  • 6 months after receiving the second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Another thing you should know is that if you are either 16 or 17, you are only allowed to get a Pfizer booster but if you are at least 18 years old, any of the three is an option.

You may also wonder how the boosters differ from the primary doses!

In the case of the Johnson & Johnson booster, there is no difference from the primary dose.

The Pfizer booster has 30 micrograms of mRNA just like each of the two primary doses also has.

Finally, the Moderna booster is only half the dose of the primary vaccines (100 micrograms of mRNA each) but Yagnik stressed that it is “more than enough to boost immunity.”

Can immunocompromised people get the booster as well?

Citizens with moderately to severely compromised immune systems, such as people undergoing cancer treatment, have quite a few options when it comes to increasing their COVID-19 protection.

In this case, the CDC actually advises that you should get a so called “additional dose” of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least 28 days after first getting the primary doses.

Then, six months after the additional dose, you can also get the booster, which would count as a fourth dose.

Furthermore, minors with ages between 12 and 17 with compromised immune systems may get an additional Pfizer dose while those aged 16 and 17 can receive a Pfizer booster as well.

Immunocompromised people who received the single Johnson & Johnson shot, however, are not eligible for an additional dose but, they can still get any booster they choose after waiting for at least two months.

For the best outcome, you might want to first contact your health care provider and ask about which option is the best and most effective for your specific situation.

So is it actually safe to mix and match the doses?

The official authorization from the CDC is a decision mostly based on the results of a clinical study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The study proved that the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters all enhanced immune response regardless of the vaccine the participants had received before.

Yagnik mentioned that the research team also found that “using the mix and match strategy elicited either a similar or a higher response as compared to just using the same vaccine. All of them are safe, all of them are effective, and it is your choice on which one you want to go with.”

Can minors under the age of 16 get the booster?

While those in the 5 to 15 age group are eligible for the two primary doses of the Pfizer vaccine, they are not yet eligible for any booster.

As for immunocompromised youngsters between the ages of 12 and 15, they are eligible for an additional dose but not for the booster.


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Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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