As residents prepare to roll up their sleeves for a third, fourth, or even fifth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, some may wonder: Should I stick with the same brand or is it safe to mix it up?
When it comes to the new Omicron COVID-19 Bivalent Booster, the answer is yes, you can mix and match.
You can get the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna version regardless of the offer you received previously.
“The best booster for you is the one you can get: you can use Pfizer or Moderna, and you can mix or match them,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at the Fielding School of Public Health in the UCLA. “If there is a shortage of one, you should not hesitate to take the other.”
mixing and matching
Let’s say a person has received three doses of Moderna. Should they stick with Moderna or mix it with a Pfizer booster?
The effect on the body’s immune system should be similar either way, says UC San Francisco infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong wrote in a cheep.
“It’s okay to mix and match Moderna and Pfizer,” said Dr. Ralph Gonzales, associate dean for clinical innovation and chief innovation officer at UC San Francisco, at a campus town hall last week. “I received my Moderna two days ago and it was an interesting experience. I definitely felt a stronger response with Moderna, as I’ve had Pfizer before, but either combination is fine.”
The US Food and Drug Administration allowed mixing and matching COVID-19 booster doses starting last year, after it allowed people to get their first booster dose. However, despite having the option, many people ended up being loyal to the brand.
But others changed it, either by preference, availability or recommendation. Many of those who initially got the single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson, for example, turned to Pfizer or Moderna when it came time for the booster.
When some people (ages 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised) became eligible for a second conventional booster shot earlier this year, some chose to go with the other brand. dr Robert Wachter, chairman of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine, decided in April to go with Moderna for his fourth shot after three consecutive Pfizer shots.
“I saw it as a draw”, hey tweeted at the time.
The updated Omicron bivalent booster vaccine is available for ages 12 and older. Adults can choose between Pfizer or Moderna; teens ages 12-17 are only eligible for Pfizer.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said there is some expectation that the updated booster will be available for children ages 5 to 11, perhaps as early as October.
Officials urge people to get the updated booster, which they hope will reduce the risk of infection. It’s called a bivalent injection because it’s designed to protect not only against the original strain of the coronavirus, but also against the latest Omicron sub-variants that have dominated the nation this summer, including BA.5.
“Bivalent boosters provide protection against subvariants currently circulating at higher levels, and will be one of our best tools for planning for a safer, healthier and happier fall and winter holiday season,” Ferrer said Thursday.