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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is backing the roll out of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters in line with the Food and Drug Administration’s authorizations issued Wednesday. The CDC is also supporting a mix-and-match approach to booster vaccination.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky called the recommendations an “example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19.”
The announcement came just hours after the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee voted unanimously in favor of booster doses.
For Moderna, the panel said a booster should be given to people on the same terms as the Pfizer-BioNTech booster. That would cover people 65 and older, people 18 and older in long-term care settings and people 50 to 64 with relevant underlying medical conditions. The booster may be given to people 18 to 49 years with certain medical conditions and to people 18 to 64 who have COVID-19 risks related to their work or who live in certain institutional settings.
For Johnson & Johnson, the panel’s advice was simpler: A booster is recommended for people 18 and older at least two months after their initial immunization.
A CDC presentation and draft voting language said that the same vaccine used for initial immunization should be used as a booster dose but that a mix-and-match approach is OK when the primary vaccine isn’t available or a different vaccine is preferred.
During the committee discussions, several members pushed back against this preference for boosting with the same vaccine. They argued that a more permissive approach to mix-and-match would ease the administration of booster doses.
After a brief break late in the deliberations, CDC staff returned with revised voting questions that were neutral on which vaccine should be used as a booster for the J&J and Moderna vaccines. The revised questions don’t explicitly mention which vaccine should be used as a booster, which clears the way for mix-and-match boosting without restrictions.
According to the CDC, more than 189 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, about 57% of the population. Hospitalization rates are nine to