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Covid-19: US FDA approves Moderna, J&J booster shots; says yes to vaccine mixing

Covid-19 vaccine: The clearances came after a panel of expert advisers to the FDA unanimously backed the Moderna and J&J booster regimens in two days of meetings last week.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccine clinic in Salt Lake City, USA. (File Photo / AP)
Published on Oct 21, 2021 07:43 AM IST
Written by Joydeep Bose | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for eligible individuals the use of third doses (booster shots) of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The public health agency has also approved the administration of a ‘mix and match’ booster dose after eligible individuals have completed the primary vaccination schedule with a different available vaccine.

The FDA, in a press release, elaborated on the booster dose schedule that has now been approved in the United States. A single booster dose of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine may be administered to individuals 18 years of age and older at least two months after the completion of the single-dose primary regimen.

To be eligible for the third dose of the Moderna vaccine, however, individuals have to be 65 years of age and older, since the federal agency considers this section of the population at ‘high risk’ of severe infection. Alternatively, the Moderna Covid-19 booster dose may also be administered to people 18 years of age and above whose job exposes them to the novel coronavirus or if they are at high risk of infection, according to the US FDA release. The third dose of the Moderna vaccine is to be administered at least six months after eligible individuals receive their first dose of an approved Covid-19 vaccine.

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However, the Moderna booster shot approved by the FDA will be half the dose that is given in the primary two-shot regime.

In addition, the FDA said individuals may receive a booster shot from a different manufacturer compared to the doses they received earlier this year. "The use of each of the available Covid-19 vaccines as a heterologous (or "mix and match") booster dose among the eligible individuals following completion of primary vaccination with a different available Covid-19 vaccine," the FDA said in its press release.

The clearances came after a panel of expert advisers to the FDA unanimously backed the Moderna and J&J booster regimens in two days of meetings last week. Regulators have now signed off on boosters for all three coronavirus vaccines available in the US.

According to the Bloomberg news agency, the recent move by the FDA means that the United States will now have a larger toolkit to try to limit a potential coronavirus rebound this winter. The summer’s delta-variant fueled spike in Covid-19 infections helped increase the urgency to make boosters available, and health officials across the US are eager to forestall a rebound in cases that could cripple hospitals and disrupt work and school in winter.

 

 

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