For the Moderna booster, the CDC authorized doses six months after the second shot for people over 65 and adults who live with underlying health conditions, in a long-term care facility or work in a high-risk field. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Tens of millions of additional Americans will now be able to get a COVID-19 booster shot after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fully authorized extra doses of the vaccines produced by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on the booster shots late Thursday after an advisory committee recommended the extra doses for older and at-risk recipients of Moderna's vaccine, and everyone who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, produced by Janssen.
In another major step, the CDC also authorized Americans to receive booster doses in a different brand than their original jab. For example, someone who originally received the Pfizer vaccine can get a Johnson & Johnson booster.
The approval from Walensky came after the advisory panel met for several hours Thursday to weigh the extra doses and "mixing and matching" boosters.
For the Moderna booster, the CDC authorized doses six months after the second shot for people over 65 and adults who live with underlying health conditions, in a long-term care facility or work in a high-risk field.
The qualifications for the Moderna booster are the same for Pfizer's.
For the Johnson & Johnson booster, the CDC authorized extra doses for everyone who received the single-dose vaccine. Experts said at the meeting that most of the reason for this is because data have shown that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doesn't appear to provide as much protection as the other two vaccines.
The nearly 15 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the United States can get their booster after two months.
"These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19," Walensky said. "The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe -- as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant."
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters are expected to be available nationwide this weekend.
As far as mixing and matching boosters, the CDC didn't recommend any particular dose to boost protection.
"Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose," it said. "Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others, may prefer to get a different booster. CDC's recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots."
"However, today's action should not distract from the critical work of ensuring that unvaccinated people take the first step and get an initial COVID-19 vaccine," the agency added. "More than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated, leaving themselves -- and their children, families, loved ones, and communities -- vulnerable."