CDC advisory panel unanimously endorses more COVID-19 vaccine boosters

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel recommended the agency allow Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine booster doses to be administered, the latest step toward expanding access to extra doses nationwide.

The committee backed widening booster accessibility for people who initially received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson after the CDC previously approved the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for specific populations.

The panel, in a 15-0 vote, endorsed a third shot for certain populations at least six months after their second dose of an mRNA vaccine, either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech. It also unanimously suggested allowing a second dose for all adults who initially received Johnson & Johnson at least two months after their first shot.

What the votes mean: The vote brings recommendations for Moderna recipients in line with those who got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and opens up opportunities for Johnson & Johnson recipients to get another shot.

The panel did not take a position on whether any vaccine booster was better, and did not recommend giving people the flexibility to mix and match, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended its emergency use authorization to permit mix-and-match booster doses. The panel was not able to express a preference for people using a different brand for a booster, but they asked CDC to give more details in clinical guidance. So mixing and matching will be allowed, but there wasn’t an official recommendation.

What’s next: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will next consider the committee’s suggestions before ruling on these boosters.

If she approves the other two booster populations, about 99 million Americans in total will be considered eligible to get a booster. ​​The director generally goes along with the recommendations, but she overruled aspects of the committee’s decision in a rare departure on the Pfizer booster.