Booster buzz: Who can get what COVID-19 booster shot when?
More COVID-19 booster shots are getting approved, health officials are saying people can mix or match the brand of these shots, and vaccines for children between 5 and 11 are closer than ever.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency-use authorization for both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine boosters, as well as adjusting when someone can get the already cleared Pfizer booster.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel unanimously recommended the boosters Thursday, and recommendations will go into effect once CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signs off.
At the same time, federal regulators also OK’d the much talked about “mix and match” strategy, allowing people who got one vaccine brand to get any of the available brands for their booster.
On Tuesday, Oct. 26, an FDA panel is set to review authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 and make recommendations about the shots. Then, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee will take up the topic during the first week of November, meaning younger children could start rolling up their sleeves by that week’s end.
The flurry of vaccine developments come as 1,130 Coloradans are in the hospital because of COVID-19, with about 80% of those people being unvaccinated. There are 25 children in the hospital, nine of them old enough to get the vaccine.
“This is a very stark reminder for anyone who thought the pandemic was over, they could slip by without getting vaccinated. This is a wake-up call,” Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference Thursday.
Routt County has seen 142 cases in the past two weeks, which has remained relatively stable since the start of October.
State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Hurlihy said the increase in hospitalizations is really across all age groups, but they are increasing faster for older populations that are eligible to get a booster.
For people who have been fully vaccinated, Polis had a clear message: “Get the booster.”
The Moderna booster was recommended for people over the age of 65, those between 50 and 65 with relevant underlying medical conditions and those between 18 and 49 with limited medical conditions. The booster is also available to people 18 to 64 who work in high-risk settings like health care.
The booster is about half the normal dose of the initial Moderna shots and can be given six months after the completion of the initial, two-shot vaccine series.
The same is true for the Pfizer booster shot, which was given authorization in September for the same group of people who are more susceptible the virus.
To test the booster shots, 149 participants of initial clinical studies of the Moderna vaccine were given a booster after six months. When comparing the response in those participants after 29 days with the response from people who just received the initial two-dose series, all 149 showed a boosted immune response.
Polis spoke glowingly about recent data Pfizer submitted about its booster shots.
Of 5,000 people with just the initial two doses of the Pfizer shot, 109 got a case of symptomatic COVID-19. When looking at 5,000 people that had the initial two doses and a booster six-months after, just five got a symptomatic case.
“I will waste no time in getting my booster,” Polis said, who said he initially got the Moderna shot.
Johnson & Johnson
The one-shot Johnson & Johnson or Janssen booster shot was given authorization for almost all of the 15 million Americans that got the one-shot vaccine, regardless of age or risk of contracting the virus.
Recipients of that vaccine don’t need to wait six months before getting a booster, instead being able to get one as soon as two months after their first shot.
Mix and match
With the recommendations this week, the FDA and CDC advisory panel also approved the “mix and match” approach to booster shots, which means vaccinated Americans can get whatever brand of booster is available to them.
If someone received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago, they can get any of the three booster shots, provided they meet the eligibility currently recommended.
For someone who received the Johnson & Johnson shot, they can get any of the three booster shots two months after that first dose.
FDA officials didn’t say people needed to get the same vaccine they had received previously if it was available, instead showing no preference in booster brand regardless of which was initially received.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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Sheila Symons’ son got COVID-19 around Labor Day. He has since missed about five weeks of school, spent five days at Children’s Hospital in Aurora and has seen more doctors than an 11-year-old child should.