COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Food and Drug Administration has been busy approving the use of booster vaccines for all COVID-19 vaccines, and in the past week it has approved mixing and matching of vaccines. But why?
The FDA has approved booster doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccineS for people 65 years and older, and for people aged 18-64 who are high risk or who are frequently exposed at an institution or occupation.
A single dose booster for Johnson & Johnson can be received after 2 months of the original single dose if you’re 18 and over.
News 3 sat down with Executive Director of the COVID-19 task force for Piedmont Healthcare Systems, Jayne Morgan, to breakdown why these approvals are necessary.
Morgan explained the approval of mixing and matching vaccines comes into play as data is showing the Johnson & Johnson one dose vaccine loses effectiveness in protecting people from the virus and it’s strains as well as preventing people from severe cases of COVID-19.
“So probably the Johnson & Johnson should have been a two dose formulation,” said Morgan. “So we see now that they’ve completed their trials with two doses that you have a 94% efficacy with that second dose.”
This doesn’t mean that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was a bad vaccine, it just means the formulation should have been a two dose formula to boost and maintain the efficacy rate.
Morgan went on to share data showed it maybe better for those who have already received the one dose of the J & J vaccine to receive a booster of Pfizer or Moderna instead of another dose of J & J, which is where the mixing and matching of vaccines comes into play.
“The data appears to show that if you provide a second dose of Moderna or Pfizer after the Johnson & Johnson, you get an even more robust response,” said Morgan. “So, it may be too late for them to use their two dose formulation at this point.”
Morgan also adds that the conversation of boosters likely would not be happening if we had reached heard immunity.
“If we had been able to reach herd immunity quickly, then we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion of boosters,” said Morgan. “But because we haven’t and more mutations and variants have evolved, we’re having to have this discussion.”
She said down the line we may see the Johnson & Johnson vaccine take it’s place as a two dose vaccine in the lineup with the other COVID-19 vaccines.