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Mix-and-match COVID booster shots safe, possibly beneficial, studies show

Experts say the facts show promising results, and it is expected it'll be given the green light very soon.

NEW ORLEANS — You may soon be able to mix and match COVID-19 booster shots.

It's believed emergency use authorization for Moderna's and Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 booster shots could come soon. We also could hear if the FDA will allow people to mix and match boosters, meaning getting a different shot than what you received initially.

"Personally, I think the data is pretty impressive," said Lisa Morici, PhD with Tulane's School of Medicine. 

Morici says antibodies from the vaccines decrease over time, so boosters are needed. However, research shows getting that boost from a different vaccine than what was received initially is proving to be beneficial.

"What we're seeing from data out of Europe, is some individuals who received a mix-and-match approach, and so basically who received the J & J vaccine and were given one of the mRNA vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer as a booster dose, that they produced higher antibody levels than people boosted with the J & J vaccine," she said.

Dr. Lucio Miele, with LSU Health Genetics and Precision Medicine Lab, agrees. He says whether a person goes from Johnson & Johnson to Pfizer, or Pfizer to Moderna, studies are showing protections can possibly increase up to 10 or 20 times.

"What a vaccine does, is show the immune system a picture of the enemy," he described. "Now, imagine showing our immune system a picture of the enemy from two different angles. Showing a piece of the virus to the immune system in different ways may actually be better than just showing it in the same way again and again and again and there is some evidence that is in fact the case."

We asked if it's safe to mix and match, and both Miele and Morici say the data shows it is.

"Data out of Europe suggests there's no increased side effects or increased risks from changing the booster dose," Dr. Morici said.

"The smaller studies being conducted in the United States are showing the same thing, that no matter what you mix and match with, you get better antibody responses without an increase in risks," Dr. Miele said.

That's something the FDA is taking a look at for itself. However, experts say the facts show promising results, and it is expected it'll be given the green light very soon.

If approved, should you mix and match? The experts we spoke with say that's really up to you, but given what studies are showing, it looks to be beneficial

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