US expected to authorize mix-and-match COVID booster shots

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Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster shots this week in an effort to provide flexibility for those seeking to maintain protection against the coronavirus.

The upcoming announcement by the Food and Drug Administration is likely to come along with authorization for boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots and follows the authorization of a third dose for the Pfizer vaccine for many Americans last month.

This Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 file photo shows a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the first round of staff vaccinations at a hospital in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The move was previewed Tuesday by a U.S. health official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.

The FDA was expected to say that, especially for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that have proved most effective against the virus, maintaining consistency in the vaccine course was still preferable. The agency was still finalizing guidance for the single-shot J&J vaccine.

In this March 2021 photo provided by Pfizer, vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared for packaging at the company’s facility in Puurs, Belgium. (Pfizer via AP)

Allowing mixing and matching could alleviate supply issues, make the task of getting a booster simpler for Americans and allow people who may have had adverse reactions to the initial dose to try a different shot.

The move will come after the U.S. said it would recognize mixing and matching of vaccines administered overseas, as was common in Canada and some European countries in the early months of the vaccination campaign, for the purposes of entering the U.S.

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