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Study finds ‘mixing and matching’ COVID boosters safe, effective

The data comes from the first major U.S. trial to compare the effects when mixing vaccines.

INDIANAPOLIS — As the FDA considers approving booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, a new study found “mixing and matching” COVID-19 vaccines is safe and effective. 

The data from the National Institutes of Health is the first major U.S. trial to compare the effects when mixing different vaccines.  

“This study suggests that people who initially received the J&J go on to receive an mRNA booster,” said Dr. Shaun Grannis with the Regenstrief Institute. 

The study involved 458 volunteers that were separated into groups based on their original vaccines. They were then given one of three booster shots – Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. After that, their antibody levels were measured two weeks and four weeks following their shot.  

Even though all booster shots gave protection, the data shows people who initially received Johnson & Johnson but got Moderna or Pfizer boosters had a better immune response than sticking with the J&J shot. 

“We know the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had produced lower immunogenicity, so this would not be inconsistent with what we have seen previously,” Grannis said.  

This new research comes as millions of Americans have already received a Pfizer booster shot since its approval last month.  

The extra dose is now outpacing the number of people receiving their first and second shots. In Indiana, close to three times as many Hoosiers received a booster shot in one day compared to those who sign up for their first dose.

“This study would open the door to the Moderna and J&J folks to also get that booster,” said Grannis.  

As the demand for booster shots grows, the potential to mix and match could be a game-changer in the fight against COVID-19.  

More information about the trial is scheduled to be discussed at the FDA advisory committee meeting on Friday.  

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