News & Politics

FDA Will Allow 'Mix and Match' COVID Booster Shots. What Could Go Wrong?

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

The FDA will say this week that if you want a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, it won’t matter whether you were originally vaccinated with another brand. You will soon be able to “mix and match” the vaccine manufacturer to get your booster.

The agency is also expected to recommend that people get a booster shot from the same maker as their original vaccination. And for those Americans who received their original vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, there are questions about the correct dosage.

If you want to see confusion, incompetence, and uncertainty coming from a federal agency making life and death decisions about our health, look no further. The FDA is riding to the rescue and has already fallen off its white horse.

Indeed, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both use mRNA technology in the manufacture of their shots. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a carrier or virus vector vaccine. How can they possibly ensure the safety of a booster shot that has received no extended clinical trials?

Washington Post:

“People should generally get the same vaccine as their initial series,” said one of the federal officials familiar with the situation. But the official said people in nursing homes might not have access to their original vaccine, or that some people might have had a bad reaction to the mRNA vaccines, the technology used to make the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots.

The New York Times was first to report the FDA would allow a “mix-and-match” approach.

An FDA advisory committee last week discussed mix-and-match data from NIH, but the numbers of people in the studies were small and were followed for a short length of time.

“[T]he numbers of people in the studies were small and were followed for a short length of time”…? But go ahead America, line up for your booster, and don’t worry if you get the wrong dosage or your body flips out.

Trust us. We’re the government and we’re here to help.

I should point out that I fully intend to get a booster shot. My risk factors are through the roof and I simply can’t take any chances.

But I’m going to make damn sure it’s a Moderna booster — the same brand I got when I was first vaccinated.

The data showed that while recipients of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine may benefit from a second dose of the original, they may derive even greater protection if the boost comes from a different vaccine technology. The study showed that a second shot using the Moderna vaccine triggered the biggest boost of virus-neutralizing antibodies in Johnson & Johnson recipients, resulting in a 76-fold increase in antibody levels. A Pfizer booster increased antibody levels 35-fold. A matching Johnson & Johnson booster triggered only a fourfold increase.

One issue that may affect the real-world decision about how to use boosters is the association of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with a very rare clotting side effect that tended to be more common in women under 50 years old. If health-care providers have the freedom to recommend any booster, they could recommend a messenger RNA dose as a second shot to people who may be at increased risk for an adverse event.

For those who wish to be vaccinated, the FDA has an obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the jabs are safe and reasonably effective. The agency is not doing that. They are not only failing in their primary mission, they may be endangering lives when doing it.