Brazos County medical experts weigh in on COVID-19 booster shots
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Million of Americans are now eligible for booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC and FDA agreed to expand eligibility Thursday for those seeing the added protection that comes along with the booster shot. The Pfizer booster shot was approved back in September.
The single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is available for individuals who have been fully vaccinated for at least six months. People that are 65 years of age and older also qualify. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 have to fall into the high-risk category or may be exposed to COVID more frequently through their occupation or living conditions such as those in nursing facilities.
The Moderna COVID-19 single booster dose is half of the amount administered initially.
All Johnson and Johnson recipients 18 and older can get their booster shot two months after being fully vaccinated.
The expanded eligibility and guidance from the CDC and the FDA also for the mixing and matching of doses. For example, a person who received the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine can now receive a Pfizer or Moderna booster.
Dr. Lon Young, Medical Director at CapRock Health Systems, says getting the booster shot is vital for those at high risk, but says he would like to see more data before he recommends mixing booster doses.
“We certainly know that getting a booster of the same vaccine does increase the strength of your immunity and is recommended for certain groups. That much we have data for,” said Young. “I don’t think we have enough data of patients mixing the vaccine to actually make a strong recommendation in favor of that.”
Dr. Young says no matter which booster vaccine you choose, the likelihood that you’ll become severely ill or hospitalized by mixing and matching is less than if you don’t get the booster at all.
“We now have a large volume of data to prove the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” said Young. “Certainly, I can understand early on even I had less confidence about the vaccine when it was first introduced because the number of patients required to get FDA approval is retaliative small compared to the number of patients that we have observed at this point.”
“We know now after ten months, literally millions of doses, that the risk of a side effect or adverse event is essentially zero. Whereas the risk of catching or dying from COVID is significant,” said Young. " I can’t emphasize enough this vaccine seems almost miraculous. It’s such a relief and such a real benefit for us during this point to have that, that it would be regrettable to not access the vaccine because it is safe and it is highly effective.”
The Brazos County Health District is offering all three booster shots. Officials say they believe the data proves that mixing and matching doses is effective.
“So far, the data shows that mixing and matching doses provide a better immune response,” said Mary Parrish, Brazos County Health District Emergency Preparedness Administrative Assistant.
“It’s similar to what we do during flu season. We use a different brand, a different formula every year,” said Parrish. “So essentially, we’re doing the same thing with COVID vaccines now.”
Booster Shots are available at the Brazos County Health District Monday - Friday between 8 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. -5 p.m.
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