Expert weighs in on mixing and matching COVID-19 booster shots

booster shots
Posted at 5:19 PM, Oct 26, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that it's safe to mix and match COVID-19 booster shots. But should you?

"People do have an option as to which booster they would like to receive," said Dr. William Schaffner, a world-renowned infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner says the choice really is yours. "It’s been clearly demonstrated that if you mix and match you tend to get a little bit of a higher antibody response and the antibody response is a little broader, after all, you got it from one vaccine and then the other. And that broadness tends to provide better protection, we think, against variants," he said.

So he suggests just getting a booster that is the closest and most convenient for you. "Because if you’re eligible for a booster, we’d like for you to get just as quickly as possible," said Dr. Schaffner.

The one exception would be those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as their first dose. "The J&J people could get a J&J booster, but they might think about a Pfizer or Moderna booster because that’s clearly been shown to give them higher antibody levels," he said.

There's also been confusion about eligibility. As things stand right now, anyone over the age of 65 is automatically eligible. Those under the age of 65 are also eligible if they are pregnant, have an underlying health condition or have a job that makes them more at risk of being exposed to COVID. "You know, that can be expanded pretty broadly. One of my friends said — gee if you expand it broadly it’s only the hermits that shouldn’t get a booster," said Dr. Schaffner.

Additionally, anyone who received the J&J vaccine more than two months ago is also eligible, just because the efficacy rate is lower than Pfizer or Moderna. "Because that one and done vaccine was one, and not quite done so they clearly need a second dose," said Dr. Schaffner.

Speaking of choices, Dr. Schaffner wants anyone who hasn't been vaccinated yet to seriously consider that too.