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Booster shots: Which one to get and who qualifies?

Many Hoosiers are wondering if they should mix and match booster shots, but first, it’s important to know if you qualify.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — The CDC gave the green light to all three vaccine companies to release booster shots, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. They also gave the OK to “mix and match.” 

On Monday, dozens lined up to receive their extra dose at Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds vaccine clinic, which recently reopened in early October.  

Jane Hizer said she signed up for her third dose right away. Originally, she received the Moderna vaccine, but got Pfizer instead for her booster.  

“As soon as they said 'mix and match,' I kept calling, and then finally I was able to get in. It was like the first day that I called, and they said, ‘You’re in,’” Hizer said.  

Credit: WTHR
The Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds vaccine clinic offered COVID-19 booster shots on Monday, Oct. 25. The clinic recently reopened in early October.

Many Hoosiers are wondering if they should mix and match booster shots, but first, it’s important to know if you qualify.   

Right now, Johnson & Johnson’s booster is recommended for all adults 18 and older two months after their first shot. 

Pfizer and Moderna are a little more complicated. Both are recommended for those 65 and older or people 18 and older at a higher risk for severe COVID—that includes people with more exposure at their job.  

Those boosters are recommended six months after a second shot, but Moderna’s is only a half dose.  

RELATED: Here's how to know if you need a COVID booster

So which one should you get? Experts say that’s up to you. 

They say if you aren’t sure, ask your doctor to better understand the risks and benefits. 

“Which one should you get? The answer is fairly straightforward and simple, whichever one is available. If you have options, that gets a little more complicated, but the good news still is, they all are equally effective,” said Dr. Shaun Grannis with the Regenstrief Institute.

There are some studies that show mixing and matching vaccine offers better protection for those that got the Johnson & Johnson shot, but that hasn’t been endorsed by the CDC and is still in the early stages.  

“[The study suggests] with the Johnson & Johnson, if you get an mRNA vaccine, either Moderna or Pfizer, you get a little bit more of what is called 'immunogenicity,' which means your body has a stronger antibody response,” said Grannis. 

RELATED: Yes, you can now ‘mix and match’ the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in the US

Grannis said just because you don’t get a booster, doesn’t mean you’re not protected anymore.  

Experts say it’s kind of like a “walk, don’t run” situation. If you meet the criteria, you should sign up. If you are young and healthy and received a two-dose vaccine, it’s okay to wait right now.  

Booster shot appointments are being offered through the state’s website. You will be asked if you meet the qualifications before signing up. Make sure you choose a clinic that offers the vaccine that meets your needs.   

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