FDA and CDC authorize use of all booster shots, mix-and-match strategy


By Marcus Alvarez
November 22, 2021

The wait is over – the Pennsylvania Department of Health is now rolling out Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots to select adults in the state as CDC and FDA authorize the doses.

Graphic by Marcus Alvarez.

According to the Department of Health in Pennsylvania on Nov. 3, 2021, a total of 1,575,184 COVID-19 cases are present in the state (numbers may vary). Cabrini University’s COVID-19 tracker reports on Nov. 3, 2021, a total of one active case.

What is a booster shot and why does it matter? According to OSF Healthcare, booster shots are an added protection against disease to remind the immune system, after a long time, what it needs to fight against.

Federal, state and local health departments are actively working against the spread of COVID-19. Following the endorsement of the Pfizer booster shot in Sept., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not made it clear if people with Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines could get the Pfizer booster dose. Luckily, that has all recently changed.

On Oct. 20, the FDA released a statement approving the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots to some individuals. A day later, the CDC also endorsed the same booster shots for certain adults. The expansion of eligibility now allows COVID-19 vaccine and booster recipients to mix and match their doses.

Photo from pexels.com.

The phrase “mix-and-match,” concerning booster or vaccine shots, means using a different brand from the original dose. Mixing and matching offer more flexibility to individuals hoping to switch providers. The FDA, CDC and other officials do not push for one dose over the other – it is up to the individual.

The CDC urges individuals to get booster shots after two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine because the vaccine becomes less effective at fighting illness over time. The side-effects of getting the booster shot are mild, similar to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Department of Health of Pennsylvania, with a swift motion, recognized the endorsements from the FDA and CDC. Through a statement released to the press on Oct. 22, they announced the good news.

“Vaccine providers across Pennsylvania have supplies of all three safe and effective vaccines ready to administer booster shots today to those who are eligible,” Secretary of Health, Alison Beam, said (taken from press release).

Graphic by Marcus Alvarez.

The FDA and CDC recommend those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine get the booster shot. Individuals are eligible if six months have passed, they’re 18-years or older and they’re at a greater risk.

For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the FDA and CDC recommend people 18-years or older get the booster dose if two months have passed since the second vaccination.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still a major focal point in the United States, but it does not mean people should forget about the flu. The FDA recommends individuals should get the flu vaccine as the flu continues to affect people each year. The COVID-19 and flu vaccines do not prevent one from the other.

Vaccination for everyone at Cabrini before the start of this semester was mandatory. Cabrini University has yet to release any information on booster shots or if they will be required for everyone on campus next semester.

Cabrini University offers useful information and many resources in the COVID-19 Tool Kit section on their website. Students can visit Health Services at Founder’s Hall, room 98. Students, staff, faculty and families can also track Cabrini COVID-19 updates through Cabrini’s COVID-19 Case Tracker. More information here. 

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Marcus Alvarez

Hello, my name is Marcus Alvarez! I'm currently studying at New York University pursuing a journalism career. At Cabrini, I served as a reporter in my second year at Cabrini and became Managing Editor in my fifth semester. As a journalist now and in the future, I hope to cover social justice issues and investigate problems facing my community. A fun fact about me is that I am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia.

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