The authorization process for Covid-19 vaccines can get confusing. Here’s a look at where we stand on Covid-19 boosters in the US today:
In September, the US Food and Drug Administration and US Centers and Disease Control and Prevention signed off on boosters of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for adults 65 and older, adults at high risk of severe Covid-19 and adults with frequent exposure to the coronavirus through their work. Those boosters were authorized only for people who had already received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months earlier.
On Wednesday, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the mix-and-match approach to boosters, meaning the Pfizer/BioNTech booster can be taken by those who may be eligible but are fully vaccinated with either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines.
Additionally, next week, vaccine advisers to the FDA are scheduled to meet next week to consider Pfizer's request to authorize its vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.
The FDA gave emergency use authorization on Wednesday for a half dose of Moderna's vaccine as a booster for people fully vaccinated at least six months ago who are also at least 65, or who are at least 18 and at high risk of severe Covid-19 or have frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus.
Walensky endorsed a recommendation for booster doses for the Moderna vaccine on Thursday.
Johnson & Johnson
On Wednesday, the FDA authorized booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine for anyone who received It at least two months ago. The J&J vaccine authorized only for those 18 and older.
The company announced last month that a two-dose version of the vaccine provides 94% protection against symptomatic infection.
Walensky endorsed a recommendation for booster doses for the Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Thursday.
Mixing and matching boosters
The FDA said any of the three authorized vaccines could be used as a booster in a "mix-and-match" approach.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's vaccine arm, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said the ability to use any authorized vaccine as a booster will simplify matters for people.
The FDA said it decided to allow the mix-and-match boosters after National Institutes of Health researchers presented their findings last week to its vaccine advisers. Although the findings were limited, they made it clear mixing up the different vaccines was safe.
Walensky also endorsed the mix-and-match approach to boosters, saying eligible people could choose whichever vaccine they wished as a booster.