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FDA approves Moderna, J&J booster shots. Who can get them?

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson

A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Denver.
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Denver. On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
David Zalubowski, Associated Press

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, CBS News has reported.

The authorization comes ahead of a meeting on Thursday, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to discuss booster shots. The CDC must formally recommend use of the booster shots before they can be administered, according to CBS News.

Who can get a COVID-19 Moderna booster shot?

As with the Pfizer vaccine, the FDA has authorized a third Moderna shot — half the original dose — for the following groups of people who were fully vaccinated at least six months ago:

  • People ages 65 and older.
  • People ages 18 through 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19.
  • People ages 18 through 64 whose line of work puts them at greater risk of being exposed to the virus.

Who can get a COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson booster shot?

  • All people ages 18 and up who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago may receive a second dose, the FDA announced. This applies to 15 million adults, according to CBS News.
  • This decision was made as FDA scientists recently said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while offering protection against severe COVID-19 and death, didn’t have as high an effectiveness as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
  • “We will work to accrue additional data as quickly as possible to further assess the benefits and risks of the use of booster doses in additional populations, and plan to update the health care community and public with our determination in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s top vaccines official, in a statement.

FDA approves ‘mix-match’ booster shot approach

  • The FDA also approved the “mix and match” booster shots approach on Wednesday, meaning people do not necessarily have to get an additional dose from the same brand that initially vaccinated them, according to CBS News.
  • For example, adults 18 and up who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may receive a booster dose of either the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least two months after receiving their initial shot, according to the FDA.
  • People who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and are eligible for a booster shot may receive a dose of Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson at least six months after being fully vaccinated, according to the FDA.
  • “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,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “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.”