In A Flash
COVID-19 boosters from Moderna, J&J OK’d along with ‘mix and match’ shots
A vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The Moderna booster shot for the COVID-19 vaccine is now available to adults in Louisiana, the Louisiana Health Department announced Friday, after federal health officials gave the green light Thursday follow-up doses of the shots made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Anyone who received the one-shot J&J vaccine is now eligible for a second dose at least two months after their shot.
The decision makes tens of millions of additional Americans now eligible to receive a booster dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Moderna recipients who are over age 65 or at higher risk due to their medical condition or work environment also are eligible for a partial third dose at least six months after their second shot. Among those qualifying for booster shots are healthcare workers, people in prisons, homeless shelters and dormitories. Underlying health conditions include diabetes, obesity, Down syndrome and pregnancy.
According to health officials, there were 1,700 cases of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy among women in Louisiana and many hospitalizations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 10 maternal deaths and 16 fetal deaths related to COVID-19 infections during pregnancy.
Those who received Pfizer’s vaccine already were eligible to receive a booster dose.
The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also allows individuals to receive a booster dose from a different company than the one that manufactured the initial vaccine that they received.
Some have wanted a different followup dose due to adverse reactions to a certain vaccine. Others have been concerned about the J&J shot, which studies have shown to have a lower efficacy against infection compared to the ones from Pfizer and Moderna.
The three vaccines against COVID-19 “are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating delta variant,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a statement Thursday night.
A Pfizer study released Thursday showed that a booster dose of the company’s vaccine was 95.6% effective in the trial of more than 10,000 participants.
Dr. Frank Welch, Louisiana immunization director, said only a few people have done the mix and match method in the state so far, as it just became available.
The newly authorized booster shots come as the sharp spike in infections and deaths caused by that delta variant has begun to wane.
But the country is still seeing about 75,000 new cases every day, and about 1,300 COVID-19-related deaths, according to CDC tracking data.
Louisiana health officials emphasized the need for more residents to get vaccinated. According to State Epidemiologist Theresa Sokol, unvaccinated people have a 6.1 times more at risk of getting COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people and are 11.3 times more likely to die from COVID-19. She warned that a more dangerous variant of COVID-19 could emerge if vaccination isn’t increased.
“While Delta is still currently the predominant virus circulating in the United States and Louisiana, we really do run the risk with this continued circulation and continued transmission that a variant of concern, perhaps one that has more severe health consequences, or one against which the vaccination may not be as effective as previous variants might emerge,” Sokol said.
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