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Does your COVID-19 vaccine booster shot have to be the same brand?

Which COVID-19 booster shot brand should you get?

A vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to prepare booster doses.
Davis County community health nurse Bruno Gonzalez gets a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to prepare booster doses at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

COVID-19 shots are here again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration approved the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shots for all Americans in late November, giving more Americans a chance to see some improved coronavirus immunity.

But there are a number of lingering questions about the booster shots. For example, can you mix and match your booster shots with your previous vaccine shots? And does your COVID-19 booster shot have to be the same brand as your previous shots?

Does your COVID-19 booster shot need to be the same brand as before?

Nope.

Since October, the FDA and the CDC teased the idea of mixing and matching vaccines. That is to say, those with Pfizer could get the Moderna booster shot, or those with Moderna could switch to the Pfizer shot.

  • “We’re starting to see some of the mix-and-match data,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said in October. “As soon as we have those data to present, both to the FDA and to the CDC, we’ll have recommendations there as well.”

In late October, Walensky and the CDC approved mix and matching vaccines for booster shots.

  • “There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States,” the CDC said in a statement. “Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots.”

Which COVID-19 booster shot should you get?

It should be said that the CDC doesn’t have a preference for which vaccine booster shot you get, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • “We do not indicate a preference … it really is fine to get a different vaccine,” Walensky said.

That said, a recent study found that the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters shots offer better protection than the Johnson & Johnson booster shot. And the study revealed which combinations of vaccines have proven most effective at stopping COVID-19 during trial runs.

Per the study, here’s a quick breakdown of the better combinations

  • Moderna two-dose regimen with Moderna booster.
  • Pfizer's two-dose regimen with the Moderna booster.
  • Moderna's two-dose regimen with a Pfizer booster shot.

For Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients, experts recommend switching to an mRNA vaccine.

Experts still recommend consulting with your physician and doing your own research to decide which vaccine booster shot might be best for you.