FDA clears Moderna and J&J Covid vaccine boosters

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday night authorized booster shots of both Johnson & Johnson’s and Moderna’s Covid vaccines, another critical step in distributing extra doses to tens of millions of people.

At the same time, U.S. regulators authorized “mixing and matching” vaccines, allowing Americans to get a booster shot from a different drugmaker than the one that made their initial doses.

“Today’s actions demonstrate our commitment to public health in proactively fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

“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, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death,” she added.

The FDA clearance, which was expected, came after the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee last week unanimously recommended additional shots of both vaccines. The committee recommended the Moderna booster for elderly people and at-risk adults six months after they complete their primary series of shots, bringing it in line with the distribution plan for Pfizer and BioNTech’s booster. It also endorsed J&J boosters for everyone 18 and older who received the initial shot at least two months ago.

The ruling will now be handed off to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its vaccine advisory committee, which has scheduled a meeting Thursday to discuss Moderna’s and J&J’s booster data. If the committee issues a recommendation, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signs off, additional shots for those vaccines could be distributed immediately to eligible people.

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