Mixing and matching vaccines may provide better protection, health expert says

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Research shows, depending on your original vaccine, getting a different brand as a booster could help your body better fend off COVID-19. That’s mainly for those who got Johnson and Johnson because of how the vaccine is made.

However, there is still plenty of confusion about what may be right for you.

State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said people showing up to pharmacies to get boosters want more clarity, mainly about what mix and match combination will give them the best antibody response.

“People want to know, ‘If I got the Pfizer, what’s the best booster for me to get? If I got into J&J, what’s the best booster for me to get?” Dr. Avula said.

The short answer is health experts do not know which mix and match combo are best. Dr. Avula says all they know, so far, is switching it up can only help your immune response by exposing your body to different types of vaccines.

“I expect in the next couple of months there will be more specific studies that show for a specific vaccine type, what booster actually produces the best antibody response,” he said.

He says significant concerns come from those Johnson and Johnson recipients who got their initial dose back in the spring. J&J recipients are due for a booster two months after that first shot, so many people wonder if they are still protected from COVID-19.

Dr. Avula says your immune response wanes over time but does not disappear entirely. He also says the J&J booster shows a robust response, and it should protect people.

“The data on the J&J booster was actually really solid with that second dose and showed almost 100% protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death,” Dr. Avula said. “I’ve talked to patients who have had to navigate this question and have ended up on both sides of it...the other maybe specific question that patients should be asking is, are they in that higher risk group for some of those rare side effects of the vaccine?”

Dr. Avula says if you’re worried about the extremely rare blood clotting side effect with J&J as a woman in the 18-49 age group, maybe go with Pfizer or Moderna this time.

If you are a younger man concerned with the incredibly rare side effect of myocarditis or heart inflammation due to the Pfizer or Moderna shot, you could go with J&J.

Dr. Avula says, at the end of the day, this should be a conversation with your healthcare provider where you can share your specific medical history and seek further guidance.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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