Weeks after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for elderly and vulnerable Americans, the agency has now approved the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots for those same demographics.
In an announcement on Wednesday, the FDA said that a single dose of the Moderna booster shots will be authorized for the following demographics:
- 65 years of age and older
- 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19
- 18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
Likewise, a single booster dose of the J&J booster shot may now “be administered at least 2 months after completion of the single-dose primary regimen to individuals 18 years of age and older.”
Going a step further, the FDA approved a “mix & match” strategy by allowing people to receive a booster shot of their choosing, meaning people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can now receive a Moderna or J&J booster shot.
Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said that approval of the booster shots demonstrates the agency’s resolve when combatting the coronavirus pandemic, touting vaccination as “the safest and most effective way” to curb the disease.
“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,” said Woodcock.
“The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease,” Woodcock added.
According to the New York Times, the FDA will make a decision in the coming weeks on whether or not the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “Should be authorized for children ages 5 to 11.”
This past September, the FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for elderly Americans after it rejected the Biden administration’s plan to have sweeping booster shots for all Americans. Originally, the Biden administration had proposed booster shots for all American adults eight months after the first two doses, but back in August, sources in the FDA expressed frustration behind the scenes over the administration’s rushed plan to distribute boosters before the agency’s top scientists could approve.
“It wasn’t the FDA’s booster plan,” Paul Offit, a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease expert, told Politico. “The administration has kind of backed themselves up against the wall a little bit here.”