A VIAL of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen ahead of being administered at the Royal Victoria Hospital – on the first day of the largest immunisation programme in British history – in Belfast, Northern Ireland December 8, 2020. File Picture: Liam McBurney Reuters
A VIAL of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen ahead of being administered at the Royal Victoria Hospital – on the first day of the largest immunisation programme in British history – in Belfast, Northern Ireland December 8, 2020. File Picture: Liam McBurney Reuters

FDA approves booster doses, ‘mix and match’ in the US

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Oct 21, 2021

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised the use of a booster dose for Covid-19 vaccines in eligible populations, and the use of “mix and match” booster doses in the country.

Americans can now choose to receive a different booster vaccine than their original inoculation.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the agency said the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for the use of a single booster dose is important for continued protection against the Covid-19 disease.

Acting FDA commissioner Dr Janet Woodcock said the decision showed commitment to public health, in proactively fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent Covid-19. The available data suggests waning immunity, in some populations who are fully vaccinated,” she said.

At the same time, the South African Department of health is considering administering booster shots for health-care workers on the front line.

Health-care workers were the first group vaccinated almost eight months ago, starting on February 17, 2021, under the Sisonke study.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said, in a media briefing last week, that the request made by health-care workers – to receive booster shots – is receiving attention.

“We are working with the SA Medical Research Council on a possible approach, and the MRC has applied to Sahpra to consider a J&J booster to follow the Sisonke study, in order to use this as a second study on the possible benefit of enhanced immunity with a booster, of the otherwise one dose vaccine,” he said.

Here’s how the booster doses and heterologous or “mix and match” booster will work in the US:

Pfizer

Individuals between 18 to 64 years, with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus, may receive a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The booster may be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series.

Johnson & Johnson

Those who are 18 years and older, who have received one dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), may – after at least two months – receive a booster dose of either the J&J vaccine, Pfizer, or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Clinical trials, with over 9 000 trial participants, who received two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least two months apart, found that more than 2 700 people had at least two months of safety follow-up after the booster dose.

Moderna

A single booster shot may be administered to individuals at least six months after completion of the primary series. This applies to those who are 65 years of age and older; those between the ages of 18 to 64, at high risk of severe Covid-19; and those with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus.

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