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Nation’s COVID-19 Booster Plan Takes Shape

October 22, 2021

The U.S. now has booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines.

On Thursday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved new recommendations for COVID-19 booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and provided additional guidance about the mix-and-match approach for boosters across brands.

“This week marks another important step in our vaccination program,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said on Friday.

During the past two weeks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC’s advisory panels have weighed the evidence to support the new recommendations. The new guidance occurred after careful review of the available data about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.

The panels concluded that the vaccines continue to provide strong protection against severe disease, but some individuals may benefit from a booster dose.

Here’s what you should know about the latest booster updates:

  • Moderna:  People 65 and older and others in high-risk groups are eligible for a booster dose. The new recommendation aligns with guidance for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The third shot of the Moderna vaccine is a half dose and should occur six months or more after the initial series
  • Johnson & Johnson:  Booster doses are recommended for people 18 and older who were vaccinated with the one-dose vaccine at least two months ago
  • Mix-and-Match:  The CDC now allows eligible individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Talk with your health care provider about the options that best fit your individual needs

The nation’s public health agencies continue to emphasize the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine for the 65 million Americans who are unvaccinated. Ensuring that everyone is fully vaccinated will help bring us closer to the end of the pandemic.

“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,” Dr. Walensky said in a statement. “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.”

In a statement today, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said: “I am impressed by the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who are stepping up every day to get their first, second, or third dose of vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors against COVID-19.”

HAP will continue to follow COVID-19 vaccine public health developments and provide updates to members and the general public.

For more information, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, HAP’s vice president, population health and clinical affairs.